Chromatic Casting: Finding A Host For The 2012 Academy Awards

By Arturo R. García

It was almost enough to make you say, F-ck The Muppets.

No sooner did Eddie Murphy give up his shot at hosting the Academy Awards in a heart-warming display of solidarity with Bro – I mean, Brett – Ratner than an online campaign recommending Kermit The Frog and friends get the job pick up some steam.

The Muppets hosting The Oscars? The most interesting part of that pairing would be figuring out which half should feel more insulted.

But at least Muppets fans are coming at this from a place of honest – if at times overbearing (wokka wokka!) – enthusiasm. It’s been more disappointing to scan around other sites and see the same basic wishlist of prospective replacements:

  • Stephen Colbert/Tina Fey
  • Neil Patrick Harris
  • Somebody associated with Glee
  • Nobody at all
  • Not to be outdone, the Huffington Post also nominated a muppet, albeit one with his own talk show.
  • And one black person

With such a lack of creativity from normally creative people (Tracy Morgan? Oprah? Chris Rock?) you’d think Ratner was still doing the show! O-HOHOHOHO!

But seriously, folks. We here at The R can do better than that – especially since Rick Perry’s botched his audition last night. And our nominees are …

Samuel L. Jackson & Denzel Washington
Pros: The POC Pacino and DeNiro. Who in the hell would pick Tracy Morgan over a) the world’s highest-grossing actor and b) Denzel F’ing Washington? They can do classy, they can do funny – really, so can anybody on our list – and both have the critical and popular chops to command respect in this kind of setting.
Cons: No, really, go ahead and find one.

Will & Jada Pinkett Smith
Pros: If we’re looking for a husband-wife duo to anchor the proceedings, how about a guy who’s not far behind SLJ in the bankability chart and a star in her own right? If nothing else, you’d think they would have better chemistry than Hathaway and Franco, right?
Cons: Who would be more awkward for the Smiths to bring out – their kids or their basketball team?

George Takei
Pros: To the hipster demographic, he’s America’s Other Funny Gay Guy. But more importantly, he’s gone from part of an old sci-fi show to become one of Hollywood’s more strident advocates, and with his years of service to the business, it’s hard to imagine many people who would cherish this job more.
Cons: “Too” tied in to the bygone days of the Star Trek franchise.

Rosario Dawson, Zoe Saldana, Gabourey Sidibe & Rashida Jones
Pros: You want a young, multi-talented female ensemble? We got you – with an Oscar-winner in the group, to boot.
Cons: One word – RENT.

Danny Pudi & Donald Glover
Pros: The saving graces of a TV show that’s a critical darling – and one that simultaneously lampoons and sends love letters to cinema almost every week. Bring the Community writing team aboard with them and the comedic potential is tantalizing.
Cons: They’re two supporting players on a low-rated TV show, and neither has a hit film to his credit. And for heaven’s sakes, don’t let Glover rap.

John Cho & Kal Penn
Pros: They’re like Glover and Pudi, but with big-screen bonafides. Philip at You Offend Me, You Offend My Family says they’d make great co-hosts for Saturday Night Live, but why limit our ambition? (Another bong-dream: Cho/Penn + Glover/Pudi + NPH = a comedy Voltron to carry the next 2-3 years’ worth of shows.)
Cons: Made their name playing arch-stoners. This would be like Cheech & Chong awarding The Deer Hunter the Best Picture award in ’79.

Idris Elba
Pros: What better way to confirm Elba’s arrival as a power player for Hollywood’s future?
Cons: Most notable roles up to this point have been a comic-book character and a drug dealer. Stuffy ol’ Oscar would rather deal with talk-show hosts.

Angela Bassett
Pros: Academy Award nominee, Golden Globe winner, class for decades.
Cons: Hasn’t had a hit in years. But hey, that didn’t stop Ratner and Murphy, did it?

Edward James Olmos
Pros: Emmy and Golden Globe winner, and the first U.S.-born Latino Oscar nominee for his work in Stand & Deliver. And hey, how frakking cool would it be to see him get the whole arena to yell, “SO SAY WE ALL!”?
Cons: Like Takei, his sci-fi ties would work against him.

Olivia Munn
Pros: If geek is indeed chic in Hollywood now, there’s not many other people you could hire to validate that fact. And hey, isn’t karma a funny thing, Mr. Ratner?
Cons: She’s still better-known for her work at G4’s Attack Of The Show than anything she’s done on the big screen. And unfortunately, karma might be funnier than Munn, too.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at

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  • Alisa Brown

    I guess you haven’t seen LUTHER!
    Awesome Idris series.

  • Anonymous

    From what I’ve heard in the news yesterday morning, they’re going with Billy Crystal after all..

    FAIL.  It’s like they gave up on even trying to keep people under the age of 35 awake or even want to watch.

  • Anonymous

    From what I’ve heard in the news yesterday morning, they’re going with Billy Crystal after all..

    FAIL.  It’s like they gave up on even trying to keep people under the age of 35 awake or even want to watch.

  • Anonymous

    I would actually watch if they hired George Takei. I hate puppets, so no love for this.

    • dersk

      You clearly have a piece of felt where your heart should be. (;

  • Grace

    Looooove the SLJ/Denzel suggestion. Also Angela. While I’m not familiar with their work, I think George or the guys from Community would be interesting. I love Kal & John, but…I dunno. I think dersk was right about Jada/Will being the perfect fit, though I’d argue Sam/Denzel are equally so, but that’s just me.

  • Val

    If I had to bet I’d say it’s either going to be Billy Crystal or Tina Fey.  But Dave Chappelle would the most interesting choice.

    Btw, NBC News made a shameless plug during the news broadcast for Tina Fey and Alex Baldwin to host. It was an example of how bad network news is these days. I’m sure Huntley and Brinkley are turning over in their graves.

    • jen*

      Dave Chappelle would definitely be interesting, though I almost wonder if he’d be up for it.  I think Tina Fey could be good, though.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone and their mother on every Hollywood blog I’ve been at so far, and on, are all begging for Billy Crystal or Whoopi Goldberg to come back.

    Um, I thought you people wanted someone FRESH?  1998 was a while back, y’all. 


    (Yeah, I know Crystal has hosted more recently than the ’90s, but still…)

    And Angela Bassett: well, sure, she hasn’t had a hit in years, but at least she’s talented, so it’s obviously not HER fault she hasn’t been in any good movies, lately.  Good ol’ fashioned racism, that, but we knew that, here. 😛

    I was stuck watching Waiting to Exhale with my mom the other day.  Now, I hate that movie with every fiber of my being, but Angela Bassett, despite what character she was playing, was about the only person who had my entire attention from beginning to end.  She and Loretta Devine were the only actresses I ever really liked in that movie.  Lela Rochon was good, too, but DAMN, they deserved a much better story than that retrograde garbage parade that movie was.

    I don’t know who should host, but here are my criteria:

    –No one under the age of 35 — NONE — unless they’re not white.  Ok, I don’t really need “no white people,” I just don’t want another Anne Hathaway/James Franco situation on our hands.  I don’t know of any young white actors who have the charisma and the sophistication to be able to handle the pomp and circumstance of the Oscars, as pretentious as it is, and I don’t know any PoC ones who could, either, and of course, that’s because most of them aren’t given the chance to begin with, so let’s start with THEM first, shall we?
    –No comedian who had hit their prime in the ’80s and ’90s and who has already hosted a billion times before.  (No Crystal. NO Goldberg.)  SOMEONE NEW, PLEASE.
    –No other boring people who are just there to appeal to Boomers and other people’s nostalgic pretensions about “Classic” Hollywood.  Give that a rest.
    –No Judd Apatow types up there.  No comedians who aren’t capable of joking about adults acting their age, and who don’t mine clichés about how men and women *supposedly* act in relationships.  Give THAT a rest, too.
    –I’m a bit wary of Neil Patrick Harris doing it because he’s a TV actor; he’s not really a movie actor, unless you want to qualify him based on his work in “Harold and Kumar” and “Starship Troopers.” XD
    –Please explore the option of letting non-Americans and non-big budgety folks host.  Not Ricky Gervais, like other people are begging, but at least, someone who has respect for the craft and who can hold people’s interests in it for four hours.  Get someone like an indie director up there who can get the audience to take the rest of the process of and the other aspects of movie-making, like sound editing and costume design and documentary filming, seriously and actually educate and enlighten them on some things rather than distracting them with the bullshit pizazz that’s always hyped every year.

    Not sure of what I could add.

    But, yeah.  Long post is long, again. 😛

  • Erica M

    Of the above, my vote is for George Takei, hands down. That said, only the Muppets hosting would actually get me to watch the Oscars in the first place. George Takei might.

  • dersk

    I dunno, for the kind of safe, bland, whitebread presentation the Oscars go for, I’d think Will and Jada Pinkett Smith would be the best fit. Wasn’t there a huge row when Chris Rock didn’t quite pander to the audience a few years ago?

    Come to think of it, I’m a bit surprised they never asked Cosby to do it, although I guess his movie career never really took off.

    • Crommunist

      Two words: Ghost… Dad…

      That is all.

      • dersk

        I’ll see your Ghost Dad and raise you a Leonard, Part 7.

        • Keith

          You mean Leonard part 6. I am more of an Up town Saturday night fan myself.

  • jen*

    I would freak the bleep out to see Danny Pudi and Donald Glover host the Oscars. I want this. How do we make this happen?

    (I mean – I love the Muppets [I REALLY love the Muppets] – but no.)

    • k.eli

      Oh my gosh, I LOVE Community – and I just don’t understand why it doesn’t get the big ratings. To me, it’s by far one of the funniest shows on TV right now – certainly network television anyway.

  • upstart101

    sings *Troy and Abed at the Oscars*…