Eddie Murphy has bowed out as host of the 2012 Oscars, due to be held on February 26, in support of his friend and creative partner Brett Ratner, who decided to step down as producer of the show following a row over a gay slur.

Ratner was criticised for using the term fags in a Q&A session at a screening of his new action comedy Tower Heist, which stars Murphy and Ben Stiller. When Ratner was asked about rehearsals ahead of a film shoot, and he replied "rehearsing is for fags."

I quit: Eddie Murphy too decided to step down as a host in support of
his friend Brett Ratner. File pic

"First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party's decision with regard to a change of producers for this year's Academy Awards ceremony," said Murphy.

"I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I'm sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job."

Academy president Tom Sherak said, "I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well."

Producer Brian Grazer, the man behind the likes of A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 has been drafted in as Ratner's replacement on production duties.

In his apology for the gay slur he made, Ratner said he was sorry "for any offense my remarks caused", adding that it was "a dumb and outdated way of expressing myself".

The number of people in the Academy that took offence to Ratner's anti-gay slur