Anti-gay slur and raunchy Howard Stern interview doom bad-boy director's gig as producer of Academy's big show
Brett Ratner, who has been living on borrowed time this week since he used a gay slur and gave a raunchy interview to Howard Stern, has resigned as producer of the 84th Academy Awards.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the following statement:
"This morning, Brett Ratner submitted his resignation as a producer of the 84th annual Academy Awards to Academy President Tom Sherak. Ratner then issued an open letter to the entertainment industry in which he explained his decision."
Ratner wrote in a letter released to TheWrap that he apologized "publicly and unreservedly":
"As a first step, I called Tom Sherak this morning and resigned as a producer of the 84th
Academy Awards telecast. Being asked to help put on the Oscar show was the proudest
moment of my career. But as painful as this may be for me, it would be worse if my association
with the show were to be a distraction from the Academy and the high ideals it represents."
"He did the right thing for the Academy and for himself," Sherak said. "Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable. We all hope this will be an opportunity to raise awareness about the harm that is caused by reckless and insensitive remarks, regardless of the intent."
Don Mischer, who was hired with Ratner to produce the awards, remains on board. The status of host Eddie Murphy, however, may come into question, since he accepted the assignment from Ratner.
Ratner has pledged to work with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to host a series of public discussions about anti-LGBT jokes and slurs in films and on television.
Video of Ratner's gay slur below:
“When we sat down with Brett today, he seemed very sincere in his desire to use this experience as a way to begin speaking out against anti-gay language in popular culture,” said Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Programs and Communications at GLAAD, in a press release issued after Ratner's resignation. “We believe his resignation is just the first step and will be announcing a series of concrete actions with Brett in coming days and weeks.”
The GLAAD release also said, "GLAAD and Ratner are working to convene public discussions featuring leaders in the entertainment industry about promoting fair and accurate inclusions of LGBT people and stories. The discussions will address anti-LGBT jokes and slurs in films and on television today as well as their trickle-down effect into popular culture. The first event will take place in coming weeks with additional discussions to take place over the next three years. Additional details to follow."
Pressure had been mounting to fire the bad-boy director of "Tower Heist" and "Rush Hour" since Saturday, when Ratner said "rehearsing is for fags" at a Q&A session that followed a screening of "Tower Heist" in Hollywood on Friday night.
On Monday, he gave a long interview to Stern's Sirius XM Radio show, in which he talked in detail about his sex life while admitting that as producer of the Oscars, he needed to change his image.
The Academy had issued a statement condemning Ratner's initial gay slur but offering support for the producer, who immediately apologized and called the remark "a dumb way of expressing myself."
But in the aftermath of the Stern interview, the chorus of disapproval grew too loud for the Academy to ignore. "The Oscars are a brand, and this is tarnishing the brand," one AMPAS member told TheWrap.
Added another, "Once the producer becomes the story, it's not good for the Academy."
The action came quickly, the day after Ratner's comments came to light.
When Ratner was hired to produce the show by Sherak, the AMPAS president released a statement reading, in part, "He’s unbelievably creative and knows how to take risks that are both interesting and inspiring."
The hiring came in the wake of what was supposed to be a half-hour meeting between Ratner, Sherak and AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson. The meeting stretched to three hours, and Sherak and Hudson came away impressed with what Hudson called Ratner's "really smart and fresh take for the show."
Of course, there was a bad omen from the start: Ratner lives in the historic Beverly Hills mansion Hillhaven Lodge. In 1989, that house was owned by Allan Carr, who held meetings there when he was producing the Academy Awards show widely considered the worst in Oscar history.