<p>Billy Crystal stopping by the 83rd Academy Awards this past February.</p>

Billy Crystal stopping by the 83rd Academy Awards this past February.

Credit: AP Photo

Confirmed: Billy Crystal is hosting the 84th Academy Awards

Legendary host stepping in to save the day after Eddie Murphy's departure

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has confirmed that Billy Crystal will host the 84th Academy Awards.

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<p>Hugh Laurie talks &quot;Arthur Christmas.&quot;</p>

Hugh Laurie talks "Arthur Christmas."

Hugh Laurie didn't imagine he would be so 'buff' in fantastic 'Arthur Christmas'

'House' star talks about his role in new Aardman animated film

Hugh Laurie is no stranger to voice over work.  Whether it's "Monsters vs. Aliens," "Stuart Little" or numerous other appearances, Laurie's vocal talents has served him well.  Now, just in time for the holidays, the "House" star can be heard in Aardman Animation and Sony Picture Animation's clever and charming new feature "Arthur Christmas."

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<p>Brian Grazer with Brett Ratner at the premiere of &quot;J. Edgar&quot;&nbsp;last week in Hollywood.&nbsp; How times change.</p>

Brian Grazer with Brett Ratner at the premiere of "J. Edgar" last week in Hollywood.  How times change.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

It's official: Brian Grazer steps in to replace Brett Ratner as Oscar producer

From one 'Tower Heist' man to another

Quickly moving on after the Brett Ratner debacle, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this afternoon that Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer would step in to co-produce the 84th Academy Awards alongside previously announced Don Mischer.

In a statement, AMPAS president Tom Sherak noted, "Brian Grazer is a renowned filmmaker who over the past 25 years has produced a diverse and extraordinary body of work. He will certainly bring his tremendous talent, creativity and relationships to the Oscars®."

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<p>Eddie Murphy on the Today Show last week.</p>

Eddie Murphy on the Today Show last week.

Credit: AP Photo/Pete Kramer

Eddie Murphy stands by his man and his legacy suffers for it

Ditching the Oscars was not a good move

When it rains it pours and for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the past few days has been something close to a hurricane of bad publicity.  Monday and Tuesday dealt with the drama of co-producer Brett Ratner's incredulous comments over the weekend and his subsequent resignation.  This morning, less than 24 hours later, Ratner's chosen host, Eddie Murphy, bowed out of emceeing this year's 84th Academy Awards.

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<p>A&nbsp;moment from Gore Verbinski's &quot;Rango.&quot;</p>

A moment from Gore Verbinski's "Rango."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Contender Countdown: 'Rango' vs. 'Tintin' for animated feature Oscar?

Plus: 'J. Edgar' takes a dive in the best picture race

While there aren't too many changes in this week's best picture countdown things are heating up in the best animated feature race.

The Academy announced 18 films that had qualified for the animated feature which means there should be five nominees this year. Even with newly expanded rules, this is only the third time that's occurred.  In 2003 when "Spirited Away" won and in 2010 (perhaps the greatest field of nominees so far) when "Up" took the Oscar. In this pundits view, this year's race comes down to a three-way race between the critically acclaimed "Rango," Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin" and Aardman produced "Arthur Christmas." Verbinski's "Rango" was a surprise hit and arguably the most thematically sophisticated (let alone triply) animated film in years. "Tintin" is already a hit overseas, but its also motion-capture.  Will the Academy really recognize a motion-capture film for best animated feature?  "Arthur" will be adored by critics and audiences, but is facing very tough domestic box office prospects with "Muppets" and "Hugo" opening on the same day.

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<p>Former Academy Awards co-producer Brett Ratner.</p>

Former Academy Awards co-producer Brett Ratner.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Brett Ratner resigns as Academy Awards co-producer over gay slur controversy

Updated: GLAAD issues statement on working with the 'Tower Heist' helmer

This hasn't been a good week for Brett Ratner.  His first film in four years, "Tower Heist," was both a critical and commercial disappointment after debut on Friday.  Ratner complicated matters by responding to a question during a "Tower Heist" Q&A over the weekend by using the phrase "rehearsals are for fags."  That set off a firestorm of criticism on Monday which has now lead to Ratner withdrawing from co-producing the 84th Academy Awards.

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<p>Brett Ratner at the premiere of &quot;J. Edgar&quot;&nbsp;Thursday night in Hollywood.</p>

Brett Ratner at the premiere of "J. Edgar" Thursday night in Hollywood.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Brett Ratner uses a gay slur and Hollywood just shakes its head in despair

Update: Academy stands by its man and GLAAD chimes in

Update: GLAAD has not sent out an official response yet to Ratner's comments, but here are their initial comments from a blog post this afternoon.

"This apology is a good start, but we're working with Ratner's people for more action, to clearly send a message to Hollywood that the anti-gay slurs used by bullies and bigots have no place in the world of entertainment, or anywhere else."

A GLAAD rep tells HitFix they hope to have a response later this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

More telling, Academy president Tom Sherak tells Deadline he's standing by Ratner, for now.  Sherak is quoted saying, "His remarks were inappropriate.  He said it best in his apology, that his comments were dumb and insensitive. When you think of our community, it went against all the beliefs of the creative community we represent. He knew it was wrong and he issued that response as quickly as any human being ever has. The bottom line is, this won’t and can’t happen again. It will not happen again. He apologized and we will move forward. How do I know this? I’ve known this man for a very long time. He has many friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. The apology he gave I truly believe comes from his heart. If it didn’t believe it, I would do something about it. This is about integrity and honoring the Academy Awards, but we all make mistakes and I believe he didn’t mean it.”

More on this story as news breaks. 

Original post: 1:24 PM PST

Just when you thought Brett Ratner might make it through co-producing the Academy Awards without causing controversy or embarrassing himself (let alone the Academy), big Brett opens his big mouth and something idiotic comes out.

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<p>Robert Pattinson talks &quot;The Twilight Saga:&nbsp;Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1&quot;</p>

Robert Pattinson talks "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1"

Robert Pattinson is happy 'Breaking Dawn' returns to the tone of the first 'Twilight' movie

The global superstar finally appears to be enjoying the ride

The first time I met Robert Pattinson it was in a small town outside of Portland Oregon on a dark and dreary night during production of the first "Twilight" film.  Not many people knew that Stephenie Meyer's creation was going to take the world by storm later that year and Pattinson and his co-stars Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner were basically unknowns outside of small circles of "Harry Potter" and David Fincher fans.   What I remember most about that 45 minutes, however, is chatting outside Pattinson's trailer and how he kept circling the conversation around to his backup plan if this whole "acting thing" didn't work out: heading back to London to focus on the music career.  Things obviously worked out and iTunes is still waiting for that debut album from the 25-year-old Brit.

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<p>Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson in &quot;Rampart.&quot;</p>

Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson in "Rampart."

Credit: Millennium Entertainment

Woody Harrelson's tough luck with Oscar will continue with 'Rampart'

Was this the wrong strategy for Oren Moverman's drama?

Sometimes lady luck is clearly on your side and sometimes it really isn't.  In terms of Oscar, Woody Harrelson has consistently struck out with the mercurial lady twice already and this year it appears he won't even make it to the party.  Harrelson gives another impressive and strong performance as Dave Brown, an LAPD cop who can't break his corrupt habits in Owen Moverman's "Rampart."  Harrelson's performance has drawn raves since the film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in September (this pundit screened it at the AFI Fest on Saturday night). After Toronto, Millennium Entertainment came on board to give the film a pre-release Oscar qualifying run in December and a platform release in 2012. In hindsight, the Toronto and fall release strategy may not have been the best strategy for "Ramparts" producers.

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<p>Kristen Stewart discusses &quot;The Twilight Saga:&nbsp;Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1&quot;&nbsp;and &quot;Snow White and the Huntsman&quot;</p>

Kristen Stewart discusses "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1" and "Snow White and the Huntsman"

'Breaking Dawn's' Kristen Stewart on a year of giving birth and scuffling with dwarfs

Plus: A sneak peek of her British accent in 'Snow White and the Huntsman'

The first thing I noticed upon my interview with Kristen Stewart for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Pt. 1" wasn't how stunning she looks with longer, dark hair, but the bandage/apparatus on her right hand.  Having likely answered the same "what happened" inquiry all day long, Stewart kindly answered,  "I hurt it a few weeks ago. I was scuffling with some dwarfs and I pulled a ligament in this thumb. I have bad luck with thumbs. I broke this thumb in 'Breaking Dawn' actually."

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