Often referred to as "the greatest Oscar host of all time," Billy Crystal emceed Hollywood's self-congratulatory ritual eight times between 1990 and 2004. In recent years, however, the actor and comedian has turned down repeated offers to return to the stage, complaining that the Academy issues too many awards and needs to "freshen up" its dated ceremony. Times change: Crystal recently told a crowd at a 20th anniversary screening of City Slickers that he's "itching" to host again — especially after his widely relished appearance at last year's otherwise-disastrous ceremony. His message to producers: "[You] know where I am." The Academy already made one controversial choice by hiring Rush Hour director Brett Ratner as producer. Should hiring Crystal be a safe no-brainer?
This should be a "done deal": "Who would Ratner dare offer the job to knowing Crystal is waiting in the wings," asks Jeff Labrecque at Entertainment Weekly. Moreover, "who would dare accept it?" After last year's hostpocalypse with James Franco and Anne Hathaway, there's "nostalgia for Crystal's warm magic." Now that he's indicated his willingness to steer the monster ship, support for Crystal is "bound to grow louder." Sign him up.
"Billy Crystal to host Oscars again? 'They know where I am'"
Why not return to an older tradition? If the past is any indication, performers and comedians don't make great hosts, says Scott Marks at The San Diego Reader. Jon Stewart and Ellen Degeneres underwhelmed, Hugh Jackman turned the night "into the Tony Awards," and James Franco and Anne Hathaway… we all know that story. In the past, seven directors (Frank Capra, John Huston) and five actors-turned directors (Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon) have emceed the awards. Why not infuse some "directorial dazzle" into next year's awards? Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan, for example, wouldn't just add film prestige to the proceedings, they could deliver "a ratings bonanza."
"Billy Crystal ready to return as Oscars host"
Anyone would be an improvement over last year's duo: "It's hard to forget Anne Hathaway and James Franco's botch" of last year's awards, says Hollywood Life. Hathaway gratingly overcompensated for Franco's lack of energy, creating "a noticeably awkward situation." Crystal, on the other hand, is "unforgettable for a different reason" — for his effortless comedy, skill at keeping the ceremony rolling, and his legendary montages. His return would certainly be welcome, but, after last year, so would any merely competent host.
"Billy Crystal may be in talks to host the Oscars again"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- The constant struggle of running a family farm in 21st century America
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week