Billy Crystal And Jimmy Kimmel Knock Hostless Oscars: “Like Having A Trial Without Witnesses”

Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars in 1997. Susan Sterner/AP/Shutterstock

Comedian and nine-time Oscar host Billy Crystal and Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the show twice, commiserated about being made obsolete during a less-than-promotional segment on Kimmel’s ABC late-night show Thursday. (Click above for the full segment, which starts with a few minutes of Oscar talk.)

“This year is another no-host show, which is like having a trial without witnesses,” Crystal cracked, alluding to Donald Trump’s impeachment proceeding. “It moves faster, but it’s not quite the result that you want.”

Kimmel asked Crystal if he thought having a host was important. “Well, yeah! Don’t you?” the comedian responded. “It seems like it,” Kimmel said.

Sunday’s telecast will be the second in a row without a host, a move made by ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences after their initial pick, Kevin Hart, left amid controversy about past tweets. Other awards shows, including last September’s Emmys, have also gone host-less.

“It’s the tradition of it,” Crystal said. “I always loved being out there. I loved the, I guess, the trust that the movie academy had in me to get me out there.”

With a lot of airtime to fill, Crystal went on, the role of the host is not as minimal as it is now perceived. “When you have a show as long as it is, things are going to happen,” he said. “The problem with the no-host thing, perhaps, is there’s not somebody out there to capitalize on that moment.”

As an example, Crystal mentioned “Envelopegate,” the mix-up during Kimmel’s first hosting turn in 2017, which saw Moonlight prevail in Best Picture over La La Land after the latter’s name was initially read as the winner. “That show would still be on right now” without a host to help sort things out, Kimmel said.

“For me, some of my best moments were when something went wrong,” Crystal said, repeating his oft-told tale of his 1992 exchange with centenarian Hal Roach, who was being saluted on the Oscar show for being a film comedy pioneer. After a lengthy microphone issue rendered most of Roach’s remarks inaudible, the camera cut back to Crystal, who remarked, “You know, that’s fitting, because he got his start in silent movies.”

Kimmel said he is rooting for another glitch on Sunday. “I hope they get the right people out there in case something–” Crystal started, before Kimmel cut in, “I hope they don’t! I hope it’s a disaster.” As both ex-hosts laughed, Kimmel added, “We have to stick together. These jobs are very few.”

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