File this under least surprising news of the day. Less than 24 hours after Brett Ratner resigned his Oscar producing duties, Eddie Murphy has stepped down as host of the 84th annual Academy Awards. Murphy leaves the high-profile position after the uproar surrounding Ratner's controversial comments at a 'Tower Heist' screening last week, when the director said, "Rehearsing's for fags."

"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 released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. "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."

Said AMPAS president Tom Sherak about Murphy's decision, "I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well."

With Murphy officially gone, the question must be asked: Who is going to step up as host? Neil Patrick Harris, come on down?

RELATED: Robin Williams comments on Murphy's departure
RELATED: Is this the new Oscars producer?
EARLIER: Brett Ratner quits Oscars after gay slur controversy


[Photo: Getty Images]

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