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Exiting AMPAS President Recalls the One and Only Time He Ignored the Press

It’s still tantalizing to think how much more electric and entertaining the 84th Annual Academy Awards telecast could have been with Eddie Murphy as host instead of Billy Crystal. As part of an extensive THR interview marking today’s official changing of the AMPAS presidential guard, Tom Sherak (pictured) says dealing with the fallout from Brett Ratner’s ArcLight Q&A remarks was not nearly as hard as people made it seem.

However, he tells Alex Ben Block those events did lead him to divert from his usual M.O.:

“I remember it was the first time in my career that I didn’t return a press call. The first time in all the years I’ve been out here, since ’83, the first time. … If a press person calls me, I give them the respect of calling them back. I do. They’ve got a job to do.”

“But for the first time I went into a complete press blackout. The reason was I knew if I could get this done quickly, the stories about Brett would stop faster because now you want to talk about the new people. So I didn’t panic. He resigned on Tuesday and on Thursday we were introducing the new producers and the host. So what panic could I have had?”

There’s also a great story about how during one of his regular lunches with past AMPAS presidents, Sherak was set on the straight and narrow as far as how to deal with the Kodak Theatre opportunity by the oldest of alums, Walter Mirisch. Read the full Q&A here.

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