LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Film director Brett Ratner is out of a high-profile job as Oscar producer, submitting his resignation to Academy Award organizers on Tuesday in the face of an industry firestorm over his use of a gay slur.
During a question-and-answer session at a screening of his new comedy “Tower Heist” last week, Ratner was asked about rehearsals ahead of a film shoot, and he replied “rehearsing is for fags.”
He later apologized publicly, but the damage was done as gay rights groups and some members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which puts on the Oscars, took issue with his use of the word “fags.”
Ratner also gave an interview on Monday on shock jock Howard Stern’s radio show in which he spoke in detail about his sex life, and his comments added fuel to the fire around him.
“Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable,” Academy president Tom Sherak said in a statement.
Sherak said Ratner “did the right thing for the Academy and for himself.”
“We all hope this will be an opportunity to raise awareness about the harm that is caused by reckless and insensitive remarks, regardless of the intent,” Sherak said.
The Academy said Ratner submitted his resignation on Tuesday morning. There was no word on when a replacement would be named.
In an open letter issued by Ratner earlier this week, the director said he would “like to apologize publicly and unreservedly.”
“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,” Ratner said.
Hiring Ratner, 42, had been a distinct departure from recent years for Oscar organizers who in the past focused the show on variety and elaborate song-and-dance numbers by hosts or co-hosts including Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.
For this past February’s show, the producers were Don Mischer and Bruce Cohen, who helped bring dramas such as “American Beauty” and gay-themed “Milk” to theaters. Mischer had been hired to co-produce with Ratner for the 2012 show.
Ratner, by contrast, is known for high-octane action movies and broad comedies such as “Tower Heist” starring Eddie Murphy, who will be this year’s Oscar host.
Other credits on Ratner’s filmography include the “Rush Hour” action comedies starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan. He has produced both movies and TV shows, such as “Prison Break.”
Editing by Jill Serjeant