Actor and comedian Eddie Murphy has stepped down as host of next year's Academy Awards, in a move related to Brett Ratner's resignation as producer.

Ratner resigned as producer of the show, one day after apologizing for using a gay slur at a screening of his latest film.

Murphy issued a statement through the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saying he was stepping down as Oscar host because Ratner, whom he considers a "creative partner" would not be producing.

"First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party's decision with regard to a change of producers for this year's Academy Awards ceremony," Murphy said in a statement. "I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I'm sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job."

Murphy and Ratner worked together on Tower Heist and Hong Kong Phooey.

Losing Murphy is a blow to the Oscar ceremony as it struggles to pep up its image and its ratings. Producers have tried new ways to present awards, in an effort to keep viewers awake.

Three years ago host Hugh Jackman enlivened the ceremony with song and dance, but last year's choices — youngsters Anne Hathaway and James Franco — fell flat with viewers.


Actor Eddie Murphy has stepped down as host of the Oscars. (Vince Bucci/Associated Press)

When the academy picked Murphy in September, it marked a return to the traditional funnyman as host, a formula that worked for of Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal. There was no word on who would replace Murphy in the somewhat thankless job of host.

Academy president Tom Sherak said in a statement that Ratner "did the right thing for the academy and for himself" by stepping down.

"Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable," Sherak said.

Ratner used a pejorative term for gay men during a question-and-answer session at a screening of his film Tower Heist. He also discussed his sexual exploits on a recent episode of The Howard Stern Show.

Ratner issued a lengthy statement Tuesday apologizing for his behaviour and explaining his resignation as producer of the 2012 Oscar telecast. The academy had announced in August that Ratner would produce the show with TV veteran Don Mischer, who helmed the 2011 broadcast.

Admits 'hurtful and stupid' comments

In a letter beginning, "Dear Colleagues," Ratner apologized for "the hurtful and stupid things I said in a number of recent media appearances."

"As difficult as the last few days have been for me, they cannot compare to the experience of any young man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs or derogatory comments," he said.


Who should replace Eddie Murphy as host? Have your say.

Ratner went on to say that he is "taking real action over the coming weeks and months in an effort to do everything I can both professionally and personally to help stamp out the kind of thoughtless bigotry I've so foolishly perpetrated."

The director, whose credits also include the Rush Hour films, said that being asked to produce the Oscar show "was the proudest moment of my career," but he didn't want to distract from the academy "and the high ideals it represents."

Ratner thanked the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation "for engaging me in a dialogue about what we can do together to increase awareness of the important and troubling issues this episode has raised."

Working with GLAAD

GLAAD said Tuesday that it was working with Ratner to arrange public discussions with those in the entertainment industry about fair portrayals of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in film and television.

"Hollywood has the power and responsibility to grow acceptance of all communities," said GLAAD Acting President Mike Thompson.

"We look forward to working with Brett and the industry in promoting positive, culture-changing images of our community and sending a message that such slurs, used to belittle gay and lesbian youth and adults every day, have no place in mainstream popular culture or the industry that creates it."

With files from The Associated Press