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Ratner Resigns Under Fire as Oscar Producer

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 8, 2011 at 7:36PM

Under intense fire for his off-the-cuff homophobic remark about rehearsals being for "fags," producer Brett Ratner's big mouth has cost him his prestigious gig as producer of the 84th Academy Awards. The director, whose film Tower Heist opened in the number two slot last weekend, submitted his resignation to AMPAS president Tom Sherak Tuesday morning. "He did the right thing for the Academy and himself," said Sherak. "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 their intent."
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Academy Hires Brett Ratner to Produce Oscars with Don Mischer: Threatens to Go Cheesy
Brett Ratner

Under intense fire for his off-the-cuff homophobic remark about rehearsals being for "fags," producer Brett Ratner's big mouth has cost him his prestigious gig as producer of the 84th Academy Awards. The director, whose film Tower Heist opened in the number two slot last weekend, submitted his resignation to AMPAS president Tom Sherak Tuesday morning. "He did the right thing for the Academy and himself," said Sherak. "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 their intent."

Needless to say, the Academy boys club did give Ratner the chance to resign under fire, rather than firing him outright. Don Mischer will continue as producer and director, but the show already bears Ratner's stamp, given that his Tower Heist star Eddie Murphy is the host and he handpicked writers they both knew from Saturday Night Live and Curb Your Enthusiasm. 

Ratner's successor is already the subject of much speculation, and will be hard to find, as they would have to carry some of the burden of what could be a disappointing night at the Oscars. Paging Bill Condon!

Here's Ratner's letter to the Academy:

Dear Colleagues, Over the last few days, I've gotten a well-deserved earful from many of the people I admire most in this industry expressing their outrage and disappointment over the hurtful and stupid things I said in a number of recent media appearances. To them, and to everyone I’ve hurt and offended, I'd like to apologize publicly and unreservedly. As difficult as the last few days have been for me, they cannot compare to the experience of any young man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs or derogatory comments. And they pale in comparison to what any gay, lesbian, or transgender individual must deal with as they confront the many inequalities that continue to plague our world. So many artists and craftspeople in our business are members of the LGBT community, and it pains me deeply that I may have hurt them. I should have known this all along, but at least I know it now: words do matter. Having love in your heart doesn't count for much if what comes out of your mouth is ugly and bigoted. With this in mind, and to all those who understandably feel that apologies are not enough, please know that I will be taking real action over the coming weeks and months in an effort to do everything I can both professionally and personally to help stamp out the kind of thoughtless bigotry I've so foolishly perpetuated. 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. I am grateful to GLAAD for engaging me in a dialogue about what we can do together to increase awareness of the important and troubling issues this episode has raised and I look forward to working with them. I am incredibly lucky to have a career in this business that I love with all of my heart and to be able to work alongside so many of my heroes. I deeply regret my actions and I am determined to learn from this experience. Sincerely, Brett Ratner

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.