Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman, the two producers of the Academy Awards telecast to be broadcast around the world on March 7, have selected two hosts for the show: repeat host Steve Martin (the 73rd and 75th Oscars) and newbie Alec Baldwin. The producers went to last year's host Hugh Jackman first, but he didn't want to do the honors two years in a row. (Rumors that Emmy and Tony Awards host Neil Patrick Harris had landed the Oscar gig remind us not to believe everything we read on the internet.)
"From the time I asked Bill and Adam to produce the one thing we talked about was, 'how do we have fun with the show?'" said Academy president Tom Sherak, who wants to capture the feel in the room at the last Oscarcast and make it play in people's homes. The producers made a list and agreed that they didn't have to go with a solo host. Hosting the Oscars is a huge platform and a demanding, exhausting gig, so a performer must be up for it. They thought that two hosts might work. (The show has had as many as three in the past.) "Steve and Alec are both talented, with different skill sets," said Sherak. "They both understand the tradition of the granddaddy of all awards shows, where we honor people. But how do we not lose that and still have fun?"
Indeed. While I'm delighted with this duo of TV veterans--both sophisticated, smart, witty actors who are fast on their feet in a live situation--clearly it is also in their interest to host this year. Both are starring in the Nancy Meyers holiday comedy It's Complicated, and Baldwin also has a weekly sitcom 30 Rock. Many were hoping that Baldwin's boss and co-star Tina Fey, who co-presented with Martin on the Oscars last year, might partner with Martin again. Not this time. UPDATE: As I suspected, she was too busy with 30 Rock, but will surely make a notable appearance.
Sherak expressed his trust in his old Fox colleague, Mechanic. "He didn't let me or the Academy down," he said.
Now Sherak can go back to finalizing the details for the Academy's alternative event, the new Governors Awards on November 14 at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. Four honorary awards will be handed out to actress Lauren Bacall, producer and executive John Calley (the Thalberg Award), producer Roger Corman and cinematographer Gordon Willis. Now that these awards won't be handed out on the Oscar show, Sherak and producer Bruce Cohen are assembling a night rich in Hollywood history. "It's going to be the Academy at its best," said Sherak. "It's about the glory of Hollywood: who we were, who we are, how we do take care of our own, and honor excellence. When it's over, I want you to walk out saying 'wow, holy cow, that was unbelievable.'"