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HAMMOND: Billy Crystal Rides To Rescue (…For Oscars Yet Again!)

OSCARS: Billy Crystal Set As (New) Host
Tom Sherak On Oscar Drama
HAMMOND: Oscars Post-Ratner – What Now?

This past Monday morning, Brett Ratner was producing the Oscars (with Don Mischer. And Eddie Murphy was the high profile host. Three days later, Brian Grazer is producing the Oscars (with Don Mischer). And Billy Crystal is the high profile host. Other than that nothing’s new. Clearly the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences felt the need to act with lightning speed in order to turn around the PR debacle which Brett Ratner caused with his unfortunate and offensive comments in several public forums. True, AMPAS tried in the recent past to make the Academy Awards more young, hip, and different with some of their choices. This year due to the chaotic nature of the 84th annual honors already (and it’s only November), the powers-that-be are playing it safe again. At 63 years old and a veteran emcee of the show, Billy Crystal was the obvious choice in this scenario. And he is riding in triumphantly just as he has done in years past. In 1990 Crystal rode to the rescue with his first Oscar hosting gig after the disaster of the previous year’s Allan Carr show (remember that one when Rob Lowe sang with Snow White?) This year history repeats itself and Crystal is back to save the Oscars from themselves yet again.

In August Crystal had sent out strong signals he was ready to host the Oscars again “one or two more times”  and I wrote then that this was a perfect opportunity to get him back in the fold since he hadn’t hosted since 2004. (He emceed 8 times between 1990 and 2004.) It could have been a boon to his fading movie career. But when Ratner was named producer, I asked him about the possibility of Billy hosting and Brett sloughed off the question, saying the Academy had given him until mid-September to find a host. Then he ignored Crystal’s public overture and went with Murphy, his Tower Heist star. Eddie, too, made history this week when he resigned as Academy Awards host after Ratner exited as producer. As I wrote previously, we can now add this to the ever-growing list of unfortunate incidents in Murphy’s checkered history with Oscar. He made waves when he presented Best Picture in 1988 saying he almost turned down the invitation to do it and then chastized the Academy for their poor track record in nominating African Americans. In 2007, he bolted from the Kodak Theatre after losing Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls to Alan Arkin, giving the impression whether true or not that he was a sore loser. And now he’s left again before even setting foot onstage,leaving the Academy in the lurch.

Thankfully, Crystal was waiting in the wings for his cue. Earlier in the year, that became evident at last year’s Oscar show when Billy came onstage at the Kodak Theatre to a standing ovation for a tribute to another frequent host, the late Bob Hope. Afterwards, Crystal indicated he might be willing to come back to emcee — but ONLY if they fixed certain things. If he meant reducing the number of on-air awards, forget it. The Board just won’t do that. Now Crystal is coming to the show in a completely different situation and the best thing he can do is roll out the best ‘Billy Crystal Oscar show host’ bits he’s got stored up. He should go back to what has always worked for him: inserting himself into film clips of the nominees, and singing a medley poking fun at the movies. Inevitably he will do that. And the comforting predictability of it all will be just what the Oscars will need this year after coming out of this week’s planning debacle and last year’s poorly received show.

You go, Billy!


  1. Thank God, common sense prevails. Brett Ratner is the kiss of death for anything he touches. Eddie Murphy would have been terrible.

    Billy will be perfect, striking the right tone and bringing the show around to the class act it should be.

    Still, we can do without Bruce Vilanch, can’t we?

    1. Thank you! I do not understand how Vilanch keeps getting hired for the oscar gig. His writing for the show is annoying and not remotely funny.

      1. Obviously, you have not worked with Bruce Vilanch. He’s hilarious and one of the great people in Hollywood. It’s also obvious that you are not familiar with how these shows are written. Therefore, you are just posting bad things about someone out of complete ignorance and bad taste. Your parents must be proud.

        1. It doesn’t matter that he is nice the writing is terrible. There are plenty of people who know how to write jokes that do not offend the audience and is funny at the same time. Do not insult people because you do not agree with them.

          1. “Craig”,
            You don’t know what you’re talking about. If you’re offended, sorry. It’s just the fact. No one writer has control over what the final script is in these shows. The process involves many people including the talent himself/herself, publicists, etc. Therefore, attacking one writer is ignorant (not stupid, just not informed).

    2. Crystal is not at all funny or entertaining. Murphy would have been brilliant. Remind me again, how does this help the Academy?

      1. The one thing I never got about Billy Crystal is that it always seemed like he wanted to be an old comedian before he was old … he does the Oscar host job extremely well. Looking forward to it.

      2. Crystal is the perfect Oscar host – always has been. Great news all around though I agree Vilanch is a BAD idea – hopefully Crystal will ignore his jokes. As for Murphy – I think he dodged a bullet, this would have been terrible for him.

      3. Eddie was a great choice maybe 25 years ago then again his homophobic slurs were now school yard taunts. Billy Crystal however is a perfect host. He is proven to be the best host in the past 25 years of OScar Shows. He can work a room and make it look ez. Which is why so ma ny other failed IT AIN’T EZ
        “Welcome back Billy We missed you”!

    3. Will Billy do a decent job? Most likely yes.

      Will Billy get the stoned guy with his hand down his pants to watch the Oscars instead of SportsCenter? No.

      He’s definitely not going to attract the youngsters. Washed up Eddie Murphy to Billy? Scared, nice, safe choice. Can’t blame them for playing it safe; I could only imagine what another flake would cause.

  2. HELL YEAH! Finally, got it right.

    Now take Grazer’s finger out of the socket and you’ll be all the way there.


  3. He’s classy but this does not make me want to watch. Was there no one else who could’ve made this interesting?

    1. ahahahahahah….why don’t you call the RAT up and see if you two can score some high school girls. Karma at it’s best…the RAT doesn’t deserve anything less than what he’s made for himself…ahhhh….KARMA.

  4. This is so dumb!! I was actually going to watch when a found out Eddie was hosting, now Im not. It’s not fun, it’s not funny!

  5. Now that Red Buttons is deceased, I suppose Billy Crystal was the only similar substitute. Another sign that Hollywood has nothing left to offer. There’s nothing to see at the multiplex anymore.

  6. As much as I love Billy Crystal and applaud his return as Oscar host, I think the Academy missed an opportunity here. I think they could have generated huge interest in the show by not revealing the host until the live ceremony. They could have built a marketing campaign around Who will host the Oscars? They could have done a series of humorous commercials featuring previous Oscar hosts saying, “It’s not me.” Or talking about why they can’t do it, while of course suggesting that they would love to. Then on Oscar night they could have opened with a major star coming out and announcing that we still don’t have a host. Then said star could have trolled through the audience past many of the previous hosts–before finally pulling Billy out of the audience and dragging him up onto the stage to thunderous applause. Sure it would have been extremely difficult to keep the secret until Oscar night, but something like this might have had a big impact on ratings.

    1. You forgot to put your contact info and your five logline pitches in your post. BTW, comment sections are the BEST way to get noticed.

    2. Great idea! Except the entire audience would deflate when they found out Billy was the host. It’s kind of a “let’s keep the fact that we have a crappy host” secret until the last minute, but great idea for whenever u need to disguise your crappy host.

    3. Good idea George…are you in the biz (or trying to be…like many). Either way, I like your idea and keep at ’em b/c with more ideas like this you’ll go far :)

  7. Awesome. And Billy’s had a least two new faces since the last time he hosted. The latest ought be nice and tight by air time. Tho’ the eyes look like they hurt.

  8. They don’t call the Oscars a snoozefest for nothing! Ratner is definitely an a$$ but there really seemed to be a chance that new life could have been breathed in to the show. Eddie would have been a refreshing change rather than the tired safety net that is Billy Crystal.

    It all makes sense though. In an age of remakes and reboots, why not reboot Billy Crystal as host of the praisefest.

  9. hosts that might have actually worked:

    tina fey (oh yeah – women don’t host the academy awards)
    will ferell
    ricky gervais (oh, forgot – too sassy)
    chelsea handler
    jon stewart
    zach galifianikis

    there – that wasn’t so hard, was it?

    1. Tina Fey…could have worked
      Will Ferrell…good idea. Career in free fall tho.
      Ricky Gervais…irreverant…but needs a bath. Not worthy.
      Chelsea Handler…funny, but comes off as a cheap whore.
      Jon Stewart…No.
      Zach G…too ponderous. The Oscars can’t afford 1 second let alone 10 second between punch lines.

      Keep working it…

    2. Tina Fey? Huh? She has no edge. She’s stays “safe” by pandering to the PC crowd. What do you want to see, her tired, three year old Sarah Palin schtick?

      Bob Hope and Johnny Carson hosted into their sixties. Billy Crystal will be fine. Too bad nobody will know the movies or “stars” that are nominated.

  10. If it weren’t for the free screeners, the Academy would be hard pressed to hold on to members. This whole debacle is just simply embarrassing and hardly with the the annual membership fee.

  11. Does anyone under the age of 50 even know who Billy Crystal is? Isn’t he about 20 years past his expiration date?

  12. This is going to be the best Oscars in years. Billy will come back rejuvenated and have a lot of great things (from this and past years) to ridicule. I was optimistic and guardedly hopeful about Eddie Murphy, but I’m VERY excited about Billy Crystal.

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