HAMMOND: Time For Billy Crystal & Oscar Again? UPDATE: Brett Ratner Responds

MONDAY PM  UPDATE: As you know, Brett Ratner is producing the Oscar show with Don Mischer and emailed me tonight with his reaction to Billy Crystal’s statements regarding possibly hosting the Oscars again. Ratner says: “I didn’t see what Billy said. I’m really focused on finishing my film Tower Heist right now. [But] I was told by the Academy that I don’t have to make a decision until mid-September.”

PREVIOUS: So is Billy Crystal once again the answer to all of Oscar’s woes? His statement in answer to a fan’s query at an American Cinematheque screening of City Slickers on Friday night was that he might be open to hosting again “maybe one or two more times”. But that’s not even the first time he’s dropped the hint this year. In March, shortly after he made his appearance on the 83rd Oscar show to honor Bob Hope, he was hosting a charity event  and told a reporter, “I think the show needs to change. There’s too many awards and it has to sort of freshen itself up, and if I can be a part of that, that would be great.” Between that and Friday’s encouraging words, what more do the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and newly minted producers Brett Ratner and Don Mischer need to hear?

Of course, if Crystal means he would host as long as there “were fewer awards” he can forget it. The Academy’s Board (largely made up of below-the-line craftspeople) regularly balk at any attempt to limit the number of awards on the actual ABC broadcast itself, insisting that the producers and host/s can basically do whatever they want creatively except try to eliminate any of those 24 categories. When Bill Condon and Larry Mark produced the show three years ago they even privately suggested at one point that perhaps some of the crafts categories (the shorts for instance?) might be handed out during the Red Carpet pre-show. That way they would still be broadcast nationally, just not in the traditional way as part of the big show itself. It was an instant no-go from Academy honchos.

Gil Cates, who has produced the show 14 times, even tried handing out some of those awards from the audience on the 2005 show in order to move things along. But the idea wasn’t well-received (some felt it belittled those awards) and wasn’t attempted again. This film organization isn’t called The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for nothing.

But Crystal clearly was energized by the standing ovation he received at the 83rd Academy Awards  as well as all that flattering praise — as opposed to  the critical drubbing for co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway. Billy is getting his Oscar juices flowing. The American Cinematheque appearance gave him another (unplanned?) opportunity to send a message to the Academy. And a high-profile full-blown Oscar hosting gig could be a win-win for Crystal and the Academy which is still reeling from some of the critical brickbats thrown at last year’s hosts. After all, Billy hasn’t starred in a major live action movie since 2002’s sequel Analyze That and hasn’t starred in a critically well-received pic since 1999’s Analyze This.

Although he said he wasn’t promising anything, the Academy and their producers would be crazy not to take Billy’s hint, particularly since Ratner says one of the things the show needs is a lot more comedy. And Mischer co-produced and directed the show where Crystal’s return was so warmly received. In the annals of Oscar hosts the golden comedy trio has been Hope (18 times), Johnny Carson (1979-82 and 1984) and Crystal (eight times between 1990 and 2004). Is Crystal’s Oscar moment coming again? It should.

  1. Billy Crystal is THE answer for the ailing Oscars. YES!

    Not Chris Tucker.

    Not Chris Rock.

    Not Mr. Franco.

    Maybe Crystal — with a cameo by Bill Murray. That would be perfect. And Rattner would be off the hook because his directorial chops, though OK, would not have saved the day I think.

    1. He’d be great primarily for the nostalgia factor. People miss the ’80s and ’90s something fierce. Even younger twentysomethings probably remember Billy fondly from their babyhood.

      First sign of a U.S. comeback: Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars?

      1. Billy was a leftist, Bush-hating jerk as I remember. His anti-GOP “jokes” were typical Hollywood liberal trash.

        Ted Nugent would be a better choice.

    2. TO: RATNER

      FROM: DJT


      The answer to a revitalized awards broadcast is simple— BACK TO THE FUTURE.
      Telecast the awards broadcast from the Awards Dinner, itself! Just as the the first Academy gatherings were dinners, return to that format. MORE fun and excitement for the viewers and the participants— like a Golden Globes on steroids!!!!!!

      Crystal will be even more amusing after everyone has knocked back a glass or two of “Cristal”.

  2. I don’t think that Billy Crystal is the cure for Oscars Rating Gloom. I think that Tom Cruise or Will Smith–or both of them as a pair is who could bring the glow back to the Oscars Telecast.

  3. I will do anything for anyone who can keep Billy Crystal from hosting the Oscars ever again. If you are reading this, I will wash your car every day with my hair. I will buy you a real pony. I will reveal to you the secret forumlas for Coca Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken and perfect latkes. I will carry you on my back across a raging river. I will repair your shoes while you sleep. And that thing that neither one of us is saying out loud? Yes, I will do that too. Whatever it takes, please, please, please keep this man away from the Oscars.

    1. Younger viewers are just like older viewers – they laugh at what’s funny. Billy C is funny no matter how old you are. As soon as TV producers figure this out, the Oscars and TV in general will be better.

      1. I so agree. And throwing in some mega-star like Tom Cruise is a super bad mistake because they’re not “quick with a comeback” I can’t imagine TC riffing comically on anything if he doesn’t have something written for him and Will doesn’t have the chops either. They don’t need “an actor” they need an entertainer…

        Hosting this show well is an art. Not a lot of contemporary guys can pull it off. If not Billy (my first choice) than Steve Martin or Conan O’B. Woopy was good too. Kathy Griffith maybe. Oh, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin…. now that could be good.

  4. Tom Cruise or Will Smith? Huh? Did you see them host the Oprah finale episodes? It would be great to have Billy Crystal back!

    Seriously, he’s what the show has been missing…


      Now that MD Telethon people don’t want or need him— time for the Academy to let a real mensch host! IMAGINE?

  5. Tag team Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris as the hosts. Both those men gave the Tony awards life again.

  6. Hiring Crystal (who is the best of all time) is in direct opposition to bringing on Ratner. Ratner won’t produce a good Billy Crystal Oscars.

    1. you got that right. but above all else ratner likes to win and popularity. if it comes down its crystal, ratner wont drop out, hes too scared of a success w/o him, however thats the allure of the oscars that it can only go up, when in all reality, i think no matter what it’s just gonna keep going down….theres too much other game in town, you can watch anything impt seconds later on the internet, i dont want to see a musical number AT all or anyone dance, its just lame in this day and age and has SO little to do with film itself. movies (hopefully) take us away…the oscars brings us right back to earth, and keep us there for at least 3 hours…on top of that, its not that exciting to see our stars anymore, theyre on tmz, guesting on an episode of curb your enthusiasm, in the tabloids, etc and if you bring the likes of the warren beattys up on stage, im sorry 75% of your audience doesnt even remember as far back as when he looked old dating madonna…
      put it this way, when you give a speech, everyone tells you the same thing; make it short and make it funny. the oscars is long and unfunny. billy crystal guessing what 20-35 years olds want to hear isnt gonna be funny, its just not. award shows are tapped…i havn’t watched one in almost a decade, ive turned down going to the event itse;f and i LOVE movies with a passion, but not the award shows, please…just end.

  7. Billy might be great, and I know Billy, but there has been almost a whole generation since 1999.

    Not the smartest move if they want to change the opinion of and attract a younger crowd.

  8. Get the younger viewers Academy! If you want to appease the younger viewers you should go with someone that is “white” hot with popularity and would have all of Facebook and Twitter buzzing. That’s right, Betty White for Host.

  9. The problem with the Oscars is rather simple.

    They have no appeal or relevance to the average moviegoer. That by far majority of the population that sees 2 to 3 movies a year.

    If you want people to watch, tou have to be relevant to them.

    This isn’t 1990 anymore. It is the internet era, when one can more than get their fill of seeing their fav stars, so that also means one doesn’t need to watch the broadcast for a shot of their fav stars.

  10. Billy Crystal just isn’t funny anymore. He’s too “Catskills Resort.” Neil Patrick Harris would be good.

    1. I second the vote for Neil Patrick Harris. How humiliating is it that the TONY’s were better TV than the Oscars this year?

  11. I think Anne Hathaway should host the Academy Awards by herself. The problem wasn’t Anne Hathaway, it was James Franco. Anne Hathaway has the charisma and charm needed. It’s just that James Franco who has the personality of a doormat ruined the whole thing. He looked so bored and didn’t bother trying to save it. Whereas Anne did a better job and would have been great without Franco.

    1. She was fine. The script they were given was terrible. I don’t blame Franco for checking out once he saw what he was given to work with.

  12. I think everyone’s missing the larger point of this article. Apparently, The American Cinematheque had a screening of City Slickers last Friday. WHY????

    1. It was an anniversary you fool. If you have ever been to the fabulous Aero, you would know that they regularly do those things. Sometimes it’s Bergman films, other times it’s Cameron Crowe etc. It’s my favorite cinema for that very reason. As a film buff, I thank Christ something like that exists in this town. Ignorant muchly?

  13. Not if he’s gonna look all embalmed like the picture shown and whipping out one liners straight from Brighton Beach.

    The goal of the host should be to move the show along at a quick pace. Keep it moving and exciting. Don’t slow it down with corny jokes or insults that people will roll their eyes at. Ad libs are good but now full on written speach. I’m part of the “I can’t” generation. No patience for nonsense. Just deliver the goods.

  14. Please, Academy –hire JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE.

    He sings, he dances, he’s funny, he’s charming, he’s a modern-day entertainer.

    Billy’s great, but c’mon already, enough with him.

  15. oh god please NOOOOOOOO he has had so much crazy work done I cant even look at his face. its terrifying! his 2 mins at last years ceremony was even more painful to watch than the hathaway/franco trainwreck

  16. How exactly could Billy Crystal “freshen” up the show? Will anyone under 35 even know who he is? And his idea of less awards is kind of offensive to all the people who work behind the scenes like the sound mixers and costume designers because you know that’s who’d they’d cut first. And why stop there? Why not get rid of the writing and directing awards too? If you’re going to pander to people who don’t give a shit about honoring the people who actually make the movies, why not just film the red carpet and call it a day?

  17. Why is he insisting that they limit the amount of awards broadcast — it’s bad enough that they don’t have the honorary awards and don’t even broadcast that. It’s called an awards show. I’m so sick of them wanting to shorten it — even more sick that they want to move to the show to january when it should be in march — when academy members can actually see the films they nominate.

    1. So you really enjoy them giving out the awards for short films even though 99.9% of the audience watching the show hasn’t had a chance to see them?

      What’s the point of wasting 15 minutes on them? (Live short, doc short, animated short.)

      Announcing the winner is great. Show a clip of the awards show. But don’t have it in the main show.

      And I agree that the lifetime honorees should be in the main show. They’re usually someone the audience has a connection to (or at least knows their work and has a connection to that.)

  18. It’ll be great when Billy breaks out those timely Sammy Davis Jr. and Muhammad Ali impersonations.

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