The upcoming Oscar telecast has lost its host, its producer and probably a whole lot more still to be determined in the last 24 hours over a spoken word.
One. Single. Word.
Don't buy the argument that show producer Brett Ratner was forced out for spilling his sexual secrets on "The Howard Stern Show." This is all about Ratner using the new F-word and the repercussions which followed.
No one could credibly defend Ratner for saying that "rehearsal is for fags" during a Q&A for his latest film, "Tower Heist." It was a boorish and cruel comment, period.
Ratner immediately acknowledged that fact and apologized, and not the kind of pseudo-apology we often hear from politicians who aren't remotely sorry but know the media demands some mea culpa from them.
That wasn't enough. The PC mafia wanted Ratner to pay, and the fact that he's hardly a critic's darling made his scalp all the more valuable.
Would be Oscar host Eddie Murphy, who showed solidarity with Ratner by withdrawing from the gig just hours ago, proved he still could be funny in the new film "Tower Heist." Now, we'll never know if Murphy could bring his old comic snap to the hardest gig in Hollywood - hosting an Academy Awards telecast.
The only face-saving measure left for the Oscar folks is to bring back Billy Crystal as host. Crystal could probably write a number with a whole lot of zeroes after it, and the Academy brass would likely gulp hard and write the appropriate check.
But dollars and cents aren't the issue here. It's about punishing people for saying an incorrect word. Ratner didn't single out anyone, nor did he commit a violent act of any kind. He said something hurtful and dumb, and he did what he could to make amends.
Now, it's the Oscar ceremony itself which is enduring yet another body blow to its credibility.