Eddie Murphy announced that he was bowing out of hosting duties for next year’s Oscars today. This came on the heels of Brett Ratner’s resignation as the show’s producer following an unfortunate gay slur. Oscar hosting duties are now up in the air. Who will take the reins?!
Maybe the Muppets. Today we learned of a campaign to do away entirely with infallible human hosts and replace them with Kermit, Miss Piggy, et al. It’s the idea of Charlie Poekel, a 27-year-old Greenpoint resident who works for a documentary film company. He’s started a social media campaign to get the Muppets hosting the next Oscars. We chatted with him this afternoon:
How’d you get the idea for the campaign?
It was watching the Oscars last year. As much as I loved both of the hosts, I think the feeling I got from a lot of America was that there was something missing. There’s something about the old Oscars — I don’t know if it’s just nostalgia — but we expect this big experience that we just haven’t been getting, and that’s in line with what the Muppets do.
The thing with the Oscars is that it’s supposed to be entertainment; it’s supposed to be fun, funny, interesting. That’s something the Muppets have always done well. There are only a few things that are universally enjoyed, and the Muppets are really one of those premier institutions.
I started the whole thing but my girlfriend at the time was a huge Muppets fan, also. She took over day-to-day social media stuff she did a lot of the legwork, but I took that over after we broke up.
Have you always been a fan of the Muppets?
I have, although I wouldn’t call myself a diehard fan at all. I didn’t really grow up with them as much as some of my friends did.
Our Twitter followers have skyrocketed today. I’m all on edge and jacked up.
Are you hoping that Twitter and Facebook will make this happen?
That’s the goal. I was really hoping to get some early momentum. I started the Facebook page the day after the Oscars, and started the Twitter and Tumblr that same day. I thought that would spark most of the early momentum. It did pretty well. We got 1000 Facebook likes within the first week or so. And there’s just only so much that you can actually do. There are only so many things I can tweet regarding the Muppets. It coasted along for a while, we got a few new likes every week.
So then in September, when they announced Eddie Murphy, it was like well, I tried and did my best. But it was always a long shot from the beginning. Now that he’s out, suddenly people are way into it again.
Have you gotten this in front of anyone who’s actually in charge of these decisions?
No, I’ve tried to. This is just kind of something I did as a fun thing on the side, and I didn’t really get to put in the diehard passion that maybe it deserves. We sent a couple open letters and reached out to ABC, but not to the extent of, like, calling the president of ABC every morning.
Would this be the first time inanimate objects had hosted the Oscars?
The Muppets have made appearances at the Oscars before, presenting, et cetera. It wouldn’t be unprecedented. I think Kermit might have done some red carpet stuff one year. It’s not an insanely original idea. I also think it would also be appealing for the networks because with the Muppets you have control — you don’t have control over whether James Franco will come out and be flat.
When’s the last time you saw an Oscars ceremony that you really liked?
The fact that I have to think really hard about this doesn’t speak too highly of it. This seems like an obvious answer but the Billy Crystal years were fantastic. It’s not that he’s the funniest guy out there, it’s not that he’s the guy in the front of US Weekly every week, but he’s an entertainer and he shows people a good time. I feel like the Muppets do that too.
On a side note, I’m pretty sure the Muppets are still owned by Disney who are owned by ABC, which is broadcasting the Oscars. It’s not that we even need this kind of thing, but there’s a new Muppet movie coming in three weeks. There’s a wave of momentum that they’d be able to ride.
What are you going to do now?
After they announced Eddie Murphy I kind of just had to shrug and say that’s that. But now that there’s no one on the table, I’m going to ride this momentum as far as I can. I definitely did not start the whole thing as a joke, but as like, “I’m going to put this out here and see if people gravitate to it.”
I’m going to be extremely active on Facebook and Twitter. Since this phone call started we’ve gotten almost 200 new followers. In my mentions column on Tweetdeck — I try to follow everyone who mentions us, and the mentions are coming in quicker than I can follow.