R.I.P. to R.E.M. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group announced Wednesday that it has "decided to call it a day as a band." "We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we're going to walk away from it," frontman Michael Stipe said. "All things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way." The group, composed of Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills, released its debut album "Murmur" in 1983; at the time it was a quartet, with drummer Bill Berry. He left the group in 1997, two years after he suffered symptoms of an aneurysm onstage. The group got its start in Athens, Ga., coming out of a flourishing indie-rock scene in the region. It's credited for helping launch college radio with songs such as "Radio Free Europe." Later, the mainstream caught on, and they became chart-topping rockers, selling millions of albums with hits like "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," "Losing My Religion" and "Everybody Hurts." Even though their hits dwindled over the years, the band continued to create music; the group's last album, "Collapse into Now," was released in March. Warner Bros. Records chairman and producer Rob Cavallo said the band "inspired millions of fans around the world, but also has influenced ... generations of songwriters and performers for years to come." The group's greatest hits retrospective will be released in November.

Steve Martin offers a little advice

Steve Martin is giving some free advice to Eddie Murphy about hosting the Academy Awards. The 66-year-old entertainer posted "an open letter" to Murphy on his website filled with tips based on Martin's three Oscar-hosting stints. "Whatever you do, don't have a co-host," Martin wrote. He most recently hosted the Oscar show in 2010 with Alec Baldwin. He also advised Murphy to "start slimming down now." "You looked kind of paunchy in 'Norbit,'" Martin said. "If you feel tired midway through," Martin continued, "give Neil Patrick Harris a Red Bull and throw some sheet music at him." Murphy will host the Oscar show on Feb. 26, 2012.

APOLOGIZING: Tony Bennett apologized Wednesday for suggesting the United States provoked the 9/11 attacks, saying he was only expressing his feelings as a pacifist when he made the comments during an interview on Howard Stern's radio show. "There is simply no excuse for terrorism and the murder of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks on our country," the 85-year-old crooner said. On Monday, Bennett told Stern that the attacks by Al-Qaida were linked to U.S. aggression. He said, "They flew the plane in. But we caused it. We were bombing them, and they told us to stop." Bennett said Wednesday that he was proud to have fought for American values in World War II but had come to deplore violence.