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Eddie Murphy Quits Oscar Hosting Gig

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26:  Comedian Eddie Murphy speaks onstage at The First Annual Comedy Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on March 26, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Eddie Murphy Eddie Murphy.

It's back to the drawing board: Hot on the heels of Brett Ratner resigning as the producer of this year's Oscar ceremony, his handpicked host, Eddie Murphy, has stepped down as well. "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," said Murphy 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." Speculation today had laid even odds on whether Murphy would quit the gig after Ratner's controversial comments — including the remark "Rehearsal is for fags" — clouded the Oscarcast with controversy. Said Academy president Tom Sherak in the statement, "I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well."

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/2011 Getty Images