Can Billy Crystal Save the Oscars?

The headline factory went a little funny in the head over Billy Crystal’s attitude towards hosting the Oscars again.  He said he’d become “itchy” to host again after a brief appearance on last year’s disastrous telecast.  He’s talking about maybe wanting to again – hard to tell if he’s being polite or really wants to do it.  Somehow I doubt if they’re going to all the trouble to hire the presumed “young and hip” Brett Ratner to produce, it seems unlikely they will veer off that path and head into more traditional waters with Crystal.  More likely, Ben Stiller might be the best choice.  Stiller is starring in Ratner’s upcoming Tower Heist.  I have my money on Stiller hosting.  Will they pair him up with a pretty young thing like last year? If so, my money is on Emma Stone – freshly picked peach also starring in another of Ratner’s upcoming movies.

When it was announced last year that James Franco and Anne Hathaway would star my first thought was: wow, some really shrewd publicist had drinks with, smoked a joint with, or shared a hot tub with (or all three) someone in the position of hiring the Oscar host.  There was just no other reasonable explanation.  One could see the train wreck coming from a mile away.  James Franco does a lot of things well, but hosting that lumbering albatross will never be one of them.

Why Billy Crystal always worked: he is the right blend of not too caustic but not too bland.  Steve Martin and David Letterman were too much for the Academy (although my preferred hosts), Ellen Degeneres was maybe too sweet for them (I loved her too).  They need the right amount of someone who will treat them like the suck-ups that they are while also making them feel as important as they think they are.  You know, kinda classy.

Another possible option for them this year would have been Oprah.  But now that they’re honoring her with her own Oscar can she still host?  Also, hard to see an Oprah/Brett Ratner pairing.

If you have Oprah as your host, you’re mostly looking at drawing a largely female audience.  The Oscars supposedly hit every demographic but the one they seem most nervous about is the target demo, the old 18 to 34 crowd.  James Franco and Anne Hathaway were put there for that very reason – it might have looked better to advertisers.

“Are you going young this year?”
“Yeah, we’re going young. Did you see we got Franco and Hathaway?”
“Saw that.”
“We also want to point out we got Black Swan and The Social Network — and you know, the one the kids all like the most, The King’s Speech all nominated for Best Picture this year.”
“Well, the King’s Speech will win.”
“And a certain Oscar blogger will never get over it – yes, yes, we know. Anyway, we’re looking to really raise our profile this year with the Nielson ratings.  Hathaway and Franco are going to be a ratings bonanza because it will look less like the Oscars and more like the VMAs.”

My best guess is that Rattner has been brought in to once again try to young-up the Oscars.  So it’s hard to imagine they’d ever go back in time with Billy Crystal.  I don’t see how it could possibly get any worse, though.  At least with Billy Crystal you pretty much know what you’re going to get — and it’s a reminder of a time when watching the Oscars was actually fun.

What I don’t think they should ever do again is hire non-comedians or non-talk show hosts to do this gig.  Hiring actors doesn’t work.  They need to know how to work a live audience – some actors do, like Alec Baldwin.  But most don’t.

Here are the people I’d love to see host

Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey
Tina Fey and Steve Martin
Tina Fey
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson
Stephen Colbert as his right wing character
Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David
Larry David and Chris Rock
Ricky Gervais and Larry David

Those are my best guesses. I know, they’re all terrible.

Andy Serkis – The Performance of the Year (so far) – And Other Standouts

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Eddie Murphy, Oscar host?

No Comments

  1. Pierre de Plume
    August 16, 2011

    Jack Black

  2. Pierre de Plume
    August 16, 2011

    Jack Black

  3. himynameiscole
    August 16, 2011

    i would love larry david to host with anyone, but i am not sure if he is really much of a live show type. he makes fun of that in a whole season of curb.

    what about jon stewart and stephen colbert? i personally loved the year jon stewart hosted, and having colbert with him could make for some amazing moments.

    this might be far out there, but what about justin timberlake and andy samberg? if they are trying to catch the young demographic, that would do it, and the two are hilarious in the lonely island videos.

  4. himynameiscole
    August 16, 2011

    i would love larry david to host with anyone, but i am not sure if he is really much of a live show type. he makes fun of that in a whole season of curb.

    what about jon stewart and stephen colbert? i personally loved the year jon stewart hosted, and having colbert with him could make for some amazing moments.

    this might be far out there, but what about justin timberlake and andy samberg? if they are trying to catch the young demographic, that would do it, and the two are hilarious in the lonely island videos.

  5. Joe W
    August 16, 2011

    No matter who they pick to host, they will never get that the demo they’re going for. Because no matter who is hosting, you’re going to have people going “You wanna watch the Oscars?” “Nahhhh”. People will watch to see their favorite movies win or because they always do watch it. No matter who the host is, won’t change a thing as far as viewership IMO. So get someone who can throw a good show for the people who want to watch the Oscars because they want to watch the Oscars. That person is Billy Crystal.

  6. Joe W
    August 16, 2011

    No matter who they pick to host, they will never get that the demo they’re going for. Because no matter who is hosting, you’re going to have people going “You wanna watch the Oscars?” “Nahhhh”. People will watch to see their favorite movies win or because they always do watch it. No matter who the host is, won’t change a thing as far as viewership IMO. So get someone who can throw a good show for the people who want to watch the Oscars because they want to watch the Oscars. That person is Billy Crystal.

  7. Gentle Benj
    August 16, 2011

    Chris Tucker! I know he’d be toward the “too caustic” end of the spectrum, but he’d be brilliant.

  8. Gentle Benj
    August 16, 2011

    Chris Tucker! I know he’d be toward the “too caustic” end of the spectrum, but he’d be brilliant.

  9. unlikelyhood
    August 16, 2011

    I’d love to see Billy Crystal again. Somehow he makes everyone feel they’re in on the joke, even when they’re the butt of it. Not as easy as it looks.

    I agree, no more actor-only actors. Recipe for disaster.

    Suggestions are good. I’m gonna guess Tina Fey doesn’t want to go there until she has a few more “Date Night”s under her belt. Actually, don’t be surprised if she waits until she’s had her directorial debut. No reason to take a chance on derailing that.

    After sitting through Gulliver’s Travels, I’m done with Jack Black. I like him but there’s just not enough variation and he doesn’t look like he cares.

    Stewart and Colbert: yes. Timberlake and Samberg: also yes.

    Chelsea Handler seems up to the job.

    Almost anyone who guest-starred in last season’s finale of The Office would be interesting.

    What do people think of Jimmy Kimmel? You have to guess he’s on ABC’s shortlist for synergistic reasons. If his show and the Oscars both remain on ABC for the next decade, it would be surprising if he *didn’t* host the Oscars at some point. So take time now to register your opinion of him. Personally I would take him over another Franco-Hathaway train wreck, but not over most of Sasha’s list. The thing is, he may be better than anyone else who will actually say yes.

  10. unlikelyhood
    August 16, 2011

    I’d love to see Billy Crystal again. Somehow he makes everyone feel they’re in on the joke, even when they’re the butt of it. Not as easy as it looks.

    I agree, no more actor-only actors. Recipe for disaster.

    Suggestions are good. I’m gonna guess Tina Fey doesn’t want to go there until she has a few more “Date Night”s under her belt. Actually, don’t be surprised if she waits until she’s had her directorial debut. No reason to take a chance on derailing that.

    After sitting through Gulliver’s Travels, I’m done with Jack Black. I like him but there’s just not enough variation and he doesn’t look like he cares.

    Stewart and Colbert: yes. Timberlake and Samberg: also yes.

    Chelsea Handler seems up to the job.

    Almost anyone who guest-starred in last season’s finale of The Office would be interesting.

    What do people think of Jimmy Kimmel? You have to guess he’s on ABC’s shortlist for synergistic reasons. If his show and the Oscars both remain on ABC for the next decade, it would be surprising if he *didn’t* host the Oscars at some point. So take time now to register your opinion of him. Personally I would take him over another Franco-Hathaway train wreck, but not over most of Sasha’s list. The thing is, he may be better than anyone else who will actually say yes.

  11. Kevin Klawitter
    August 16, 2011

    I got into the Oscars too late to see Billy Crystal host, but he’s a charming guy, and I agree that the Oscar host shouldn’t be too caustic. It should be good-natured ribbing, not a mean-spirited and self-indulgent attack comedy routine like we got from Ricky Gervais at the Globes.

    I also don’t think they should do co-hosting this year. Co-hosts require chemistry, which can’t be manufactured, and lots of rehearsal time (that is what killed Hathaway and Franco). I think they should do the same thing as they did with Hugh Jackman: keep one guy on the entire time and have guests for the skits in between sections. Here are my picks for consideration:

    Hugh Jackman
    Billy Crystal
    Steve Martin
    Christopher Walken
    Justin Timberlake
    Samuel L. Jackson
    Conan O’Brien

  12. Kevin Klawitter
    August 16, 2011

    I got into the Oscars too late to see Billy Crystal host, but he’s a charming guy, and I agree that the Oscar host shouldn’t be too caustic. It should be good-natured ribbing, not a mean-spirited and self-indulgent attack comedy routine like we got from Ricky Gervais at the Globes.

    I also don’t think they should do co-hosting this year. Co-hosts require chemistry, which can’t be manufactured, and lots of rehearsal time (that is what killed Hathaway and Franco). I think they should do the same thing as they did with Hugh Jackman: keep one guy on the entire time and have guests for the skits in between sections. Here are my picks for consideration:

    Hugh Jackman
    Billy Crystal
    Steve Martin
    Christopher Walken
    Justin Timberlake
    Samuel L. Jackson
    Conan O’Brien

  13. August 16, 2011

    They need the right amount of someone who will treat them like the suck-ups that they are while also making them feel as important as they think they are.

    Like their agents, personal trainers, and mistresses treat them.

  14. August 16, 2011

    They need the right amount of someone who will treat them like the suck-ups that they are while also making them feel as important as they think they are.

    Like their agents, personal trainers, and mistresses treat them.

  15. August 16, 2011

    it’s a reminder of a time when watching the Oscars was actually fun.

    …instead of each envelope flap inflicting Death by 100 Paper Cuts.

  16. August 16, 2011

    it’s a reminder of a time when watching the Oscars was actually fun.

    …instead of each envelope flap inflicting Death by 100 Paper Cuts.

  17. Not Harrison Ford
    August 16, 2011

    Surprised that nobody has suggested this yet, but what about Kermit the Frog?

  18. Not Harrison Ford
    August 16, 2011

    Surprised that nobody has suggested this yet, but what about Kermit the Frog?

  19. Gentle Benj
    August 16, 2011

    Heh, I expect the Muppets will be involved as presenters or something, what with their new movie and all.

  20. Gentle Benj
    August 16, 2011

    Heh, I expect the Muppets will be involved as presenters or something, what with their new movie and all.

  21. August 16, 2011

    Just started a Facebook petition for this. Join the above website to get Kermit as a host!

  22. August 16, 2011

    Just started a Facebook petition for this. Join the above website to get Kermit as a host!

  23. August 16, 2011

    Can’t we rig up Andy Serkis to host the Oscars as Billy Crystal? If not, what’s the fucking point of mocap anyway? Actors Branch, embrace your fate!

  24. August 16, 2011

    Can’t we rig up Andy Serkis to host the Oscars as Billy Crystal? If not, what’s the fucking point of mocap anyway? Actors Branch, embrace your fate!

  25. Bob Burns
    August 16, 2011

    get Franco and Hathaway again….. it really doesn’t matter. No one is going to look good after Jane Lynch.

  26. Bob Burns
    August 16, 2011

    get Franco and Hathaway again….. it really doesn’t matter. No one is going to look good after Jane Lynch.

  27. Bryce H.
    August 16, 2011

    “If so, my money is on Emma Stone – freshly picked peach also starring in another of Ratner’s upcoming movies.”
    Movie 43, isn’t that just a bunch of shorts? How do you know they’re working together? IMDB didn’t tell me what actors and directors worked together for the project.

    And I wouldn’t want Stone to do the Oscars, she is so awesome I would hate to see her fail – as she and Stiller surely would – with something as public as the Oscars.

  28. Bryce H.
    August 16, 2011

    “If so, my money is on Emma Stone – freshly picked peach also starring in another of Ratner’s upcoming movies.”
    Movie 43, isn’t that just a bunch of shorts? How do you know they’re working together? IMDB didn’t tell me what actors and directors worked together for the project.

    And I wouldn’t want Stone to do the Oscars, she is so awesome I would hate to see her fail – as she and Stiller surely would – with something as public as the Oscars.

  29. fig
    August 16, 2011

    timberlake and samberg would be the best choice. you’ve got the younger demographic, the music, the comedy, and the style. thats what they say they’re looking for right?

    how can they say that they want to move in a new direction and think billy crystal would be the person to do that? he would be more of the same old stuff. im not into it at all.

  30. fig
    August 16, 2011

    timberlake and samberg would be the best choice. you’ve got the younger demographic, the music, the comedy, and the style. thats what they say they’re looking for right?

    how can they say that they want to move in a new direction and think billy crystal would be the person to do that? he would be more of the same old stuff. im not into it at all.

  31. Bob Burns
    August 16, 2011

    maybe someone that represents the actual Academy….. a 70 year old producer and an actress that hasn’t made a film for 25 years…. you know, refreshing honesty about who is really giving out this stuff.

  32. Bob Burns
    August 16, 2011

    maybe someone that represents the actual Academy….. a 70 year old producer and an actress that hasn’t made a film for 25 years…. you know, refreshing honesty about who is really giving out this stuff.

  33. Eric Bialas
    August 16, 2011

    But the 18-34 crowd grew up seeing Crystal. He’d be a fine fit.

  34. Eric Bialas
    August 16, 2011

    But the 18-34 crowd grew up seeing Crystal. He’d be a fine fit.

  35. alan of montreal
    August 16, 2011

    Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson

    or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

  36. alan of montreal
    August 16, 2011

    Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson

    or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

  37. alan of montreal
    August 16, 2011

    Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson!!!!!!

    OR

    Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

  38. alan of montreal
    August 16, 2011

    Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson!!!!!!

    OR

    Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

  39. alan of montreal
    August 16, 2011

    My posts don’t seem to be making it on here, so I’m going to simplify it by only saying it once (as opposed to 100 times through copy and paste):

    CRAIG FERGUSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    though I will accept Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

  40. alan of montreal
    August 16, 2011

    My posts don’t seem to be making it on here, so I’m going to simplify it by only saying it once (as opposed to 100 times through copy and paste):

    CRAIG FERGUSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    though I will accept Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

  41. alan of montreal
    August 16, 2011
  42. alan of montreal
    August 16, 2011
  43. S.T. Stevens
    August 16, 2011

    If I recall, they tried to pair Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. as hosts a couple years ago, but one of them didn’t want to do it and the other wouldn’t host without him – at least that was the rumor (I think Downey Jr. didn’t want the hosting gig and Stiller didn’t want to host without a partner).

    Also, if Stiller were to host and he were to be paired up with an attractive it-girl, I’d think he’d have a lot more chemistry with someone like Kristen Wiig.

  44. S.T. Stevens
    August 16, 2011

    If I recall, they tried to pair Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. as hosts a couple years ago, but one of them didn’t want to do it and the other wouldn’t host without him – at least that was the rumor (I think Downey Jr. didn’t want the hosting gig and Stiller didn’t want to host without a partner).

    Also, if Stiller were to host and he were to be paired up with an attractive it-girl, I’d think he’d have a lot more chemistry with someone like Kristen Wiig.

  45. S.T. Stevens
    August 16, 2011

    Also, host I’d love to see but nobody is mentioning: Jon Hamm.

  46. S.T. Stevens
    August 16, 2011

    Also, host I’d love to see but nobody is mentioning: Jon Hamm.

  47. August 17, 2011

    sorry ’bout that. alan
    The spam filter doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.
    I had to go searching for your missing comments and set them free. (above)

  48. August 17, 2011

    sorry ’bout that. alan
    The spam filter doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.
    I had to go searching for your missing comments and set them free. (above)

  49. PaulH
    August 17, 2011

    Only thing that can save the Oscars is the Academy not giving away the store, the majority of nominations to hardcore arthouse films that 5% of Americans have seen, if that. This year has not been, nor will it be the best of years for movies. Ben Stiller? Somebody tell him his 15 minutes are up, after that abortion of a skit with him as one of the Na’vi.

  50. PaulH
    August 17, 2011

    Only thing that can save the Oscars is the Academy not giving away the store, the majority of nominations to hardcore arthouse films that 5% of Americans have seen, if that. This year has not been, nor will it be the best of years for movies. Ben Stiller? Somebody tell him his 15 minutes are up, after that abortion of a skit with him as one of the Na’vi.

  51. Gentle Benj
    August 17, 2011

    Only thing that can save the Oscars is the Academy not giving away the store, the majority of nominations to hardcore arthouse films that 5% of Americans have seen, if that.

    If that’s the choice that must be made, then the hell with the ratings.

  52. Gentle Benj
    August 17, 2011

    Only thing that can save the Oscars is the Academy not giving away the store, the majority of nominations to hardcore arthouse films that 5% of Americans have seen, if that.

    If that’s the choice that must be made, then the hell with the ratings.

  53. daveylow
    August 17, 2011

    I think Billy Crystal is too old hat to be host any longer.

  54. daveylow
    August 17, 2011

    I think Billy Crystal is too old hat to be host any longer.

  55. joy
    August 17, 2011

    Justin Timberlake would be a good half for a duo

  56. joy
    August 17, 2011

    Justin Timberlake would be a good half for a duo

  57. Eric Bialas
    August 17, 2011

    How about Mike Myers? Loved by his peers. Still widely liked by audiences of all ages. He can be sincere and has no problem antagonizing others. He was always a highlight on other shows, and it’d bring awareness to his unnecessary Austin Powers sequel.

  58. Eric Bialas
    August 17, 2011

    How about Mike Myers? Loved by his peers. Still widely liked by audiences of all ages. He can be sincere and has no problem antagonizing others. He was always a highlight on other shows, and it’d bring awareness to his unnecessary Austin Powers sequel.

  59. Jack Scribe
    August 17, 2011

    Dare I suggest the obvious: NPH? He’s a natural. Whatever happens, I hope the producers retire Bruce Vilanch from the writing team.

  60. Jack Scribe
    August 17, 2011

    Dare I suggest the obvious: NPH? He’s a natural. Whatever happens, I hope the producers retire Bruce Vilanch from the writing team.

  61. PaulH
    August 17, 2011

    I think in an ideal world, Super 8 and Bridesmaids would be good BP nominees; that way, the Oscars can say to a disbelieving world, see, in an off-year, we can honor movies that are embraced by both critics and fans. That would be a good beginning.

  62. PaulH
    August 17, 2011

    I think in an ideal world, Super 8 and Bridesmaids would be good BP nominees; that way, the Oscars can say to a disbelieving world, see, in an off-year, we can honor movies that are embraced by both critics and fans. That would be a good beginning.

  63. Alice_R
    August 19, 2011

    why not Kristen Wiig????

  64. Alice_R
    August 19, 2011

    why not Kristen Wiig????

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