Tower Heist Director Brett Ratner Steps Down As Oscar Producer

Following his use of a gay slur during a Q&A (and other remarks), it was only a matter of time.

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Director Brett Ratner receives the Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Award during the 2011 Friars Club Comedy Film Festival at the New York Friars Club on October 15, 2011 in New York City.

Just days after director Brett Ratner quipped that “rehearsal is for fags” at a Q&A session for his new movie Tower Heist, he has resigned as the producer of the 2012 Academy Awards.

“[A]s painful as this may be for me,” Ratner said in a released statement Tuesday evening, “it would be worse if my association with the show were to be a distraction from the Academy and the high ideals it represents.” Academy President Tom Sherak accepted his departure saying, “Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable.”

Ratner had already apologized for the slur, of course. Every celebrity releases some variation of “I didn’t mean it” or “I’m sorry if I offended” after making an off-the-cuff remark that reveals the speaker’s racism, sexism, or homophobia. (See: Tracy Morgan, Mel Gibson.) Here was Ratner’s version, issued Monday, again as a written statement:  “I apologize for any offense my remarks caused. It was a dumb and outdated way of expressing myself.” He then added, “Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body.”

Although that last point is debatable (if you use words like “fag,”  you clearly do have at least one prejudiced bone that allows you to reflexively use such language), Ratner’s problem isn’t the people who know him. As producer of the Academy Awards, he was going to be working with a lot of people who didn’t know him personally — and he would put on a performance that would be watched by millions more.  Furthermore, not only did he use an offensive term, but he used it to demean people who consider acting an art form that needs to be practiced — the very people, it turns out, who the Academy seeks to honor with awards. This isn’t just a gaffe. It’s unprofessional, rude and wrong.

It’s important to note that this isn’t Ratner’s only tasteless remark these past few weeks. He also claimed to have “banged” Olivia Munn a few times but then “forgot her” because “she wasn’t Asian back then.” He later admitted on Howard Stern that he’d completely lied and that the two hadn’t hooked up. Also discussed with Howard Stern: how he made Lindsay Lohan get tested for STDs before agreeing to have sex with her. While these other comments weren’t as offensive as the one that made him step down, they were indicative of Ratner’s general skeeze-ball-ness.

The Academy now has a little more than three months to find Ratner’s replacement. As to whether or not Eddie Murphy, who Ratner helped bring aboard, will stay on as host remains to be seen. The 2012 Academy Awards airs on February 26.

Watch part of Ratner’s Q&A below. (Jump ahead to 2:40, if you’re so inclined, for the offensive remarks.)

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