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Grazer Picks Crystal To Host the 84th Oscarcast

Awards
by Anne Thompson
November 10, 2011 1:44 PM
9 Comments
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Ron Howard and Brian Grazer

Brian Grazer has always been in love with the Oscars. It made sense for AMPAS president Tom Sherak to turn to the producer of "Tower Heist" to replace outgoing producer Brett Ratner--who resigned under fire for making a round of well-publicized off-color comments that did not represent the always prestige-conscious Academy--as producer of the 84th Academy Awards with Don Mischer.

One of the jobs of the Oscar producer is to wrangle talent relationships and persuade reluctant stars to turn up on the telecast. The Academy confirms that Grazer has lured back veteran Oscar host Billy Crystal, who has hosted eight times, to replace departing show host Eddie Murphy, who didn't want to proceed without Ratner. Crystal will be the oldest solo host, at age 63, since Bob Hope. Crystal tweeted: "Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show."

While other names were floated for the hosting gig, including past hosts Steve Martin, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, past presenter Tina Fey and musically gifted comedy TV star and Tony host Neil Patrick Harris, Crystal is a proven favorite as host--and handily won a raised hands poll at my Sneak Previews group.  While some pushed the Muppets for hosting chores --an hilarious idea that would have been tricky to stage live at the Kodak--Grazer would be wise to bring them back as presenters (see 1980 video below).

Predicting what Grazer will do with the telecast is a challenge, because the industry veteran's taste and style run the gamut, from high-end movies aimed at older moviegoers such as "J. Edgar," "Apollo 13," "Cinderella Man," and "Frost/Nixon," often directed by his Imagine partner Ron Howard, to more mainstream and comedy fare, such as "Spies Like Us," "Kindergarten Cop," "The Nutty Professor," "Liar Liar," "8 Mile" and "Splash," starring Tom Hanks, one of several Grazer cronies who we can count on presenting this year. "Tower Heist" star Ben Stiller, who brought down the house at last year's Oscars with his "Avatar" parody, is another strong candidate.

Oscar-winning Grazer ("A Beautiful Mind") has never produced the telecast before. "Brian Grazer is a renowned filmmaker who over the past 25 years has produced a diverse and extraordinary body of work," said Sherak. "He will certainly bring his tremendous talent, creativity and relationships to the Oscars."

The Oscar telecast will air on ABC and around the world on February 26, 2012.
 

Awards
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9 Comments

  • Rovena | November 10, 2011 6:13 PMReply

    It will be his 9th time hosting the event and I would like to see him co-hosting this time with another comedian to bounce off each other. He barely does any movies anymore so that would make it more interesting.
    It could also be him passing the baton to a younger comedian and set up a new comedian host who can return and who is a Billy Crystal level player.

  • BJ | November 10, 2011 5:13 PMReply

    Have always wanted Tracey Ullman to host - she would be absolutely hilarious yet classy and keep the context about the movies and the stars. The link to the AFI Meryl Streep tribute:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRwFyiF2JEk

  • Will | November 10, 2011 3:38 PMReply

    All very true, Sakul, just a little correction. Shirley MacLaine (1998) and Doris Day (1989) were already presented with Cecil B. DeMille Award.

  • sakul | November 10, 2011 3:27 PMReply

    1) I would love to see Tracey Ullman hosting, and I wonder why her name isn't even brought up more often... She is brilliant at making a little bit of fun of all the celebrity-culture and amazing at impersonating them - wouldn't it be great if she did impersonations of the nominees?
    And she proofed that she is hysterical in front of a live audience when she made that speech for Meryl Streep at the AFI Honorary Award in 2004.

    2) Speaking of Honorary Awards, I agree with Will. It is incredible how few women are honored with the Honorary Oscars, not to mention the AFI Awards or the Cecile B. DeMille Awards -- as the HFPA recently announced this year's DeMille Award recipient is Morgan Freeman. The last time a woman got that award was, believe it or not, in 2000 (Barbara Streisand)! Eleven years of only male honorees.
    Angela Lansbury, Doris Day, Julie Andrews, Barbara Streisand, Shirley MacLaine, among others, would be worthy recipients.
    I am glad that the AFI Life Achievement goes to Shirley MacLaine next year, but hell that's 8 years after Meryl Streep! Before her, out of 39 honorees only SIX have been women.
    What about -- again -- Lansbury, Andrews, Day etc. or: Ellen Burstyn, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Liza Minelli, Faye Dunaway, Sissy Spacek, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Whoopie Goldberg, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close?
    So I agree, it would be great to bring that up Anne!

  • Big Bomb | November 10, 2011 7:16 PM

    Tracey in the day. Yes. Not now. Same with Billy Crystal. I love traditions on certain things, but time to move on for these guys. Kirsten Wiig could tackle it. Watch her needle the Academy about why her leading role as a comic actor in Bridesmaids wasn't worthy ... Seth MacFarlane would kill it. He's fantastic on chat shows, he's good at the Comedy Central roast hosting, he's smooth, would look great in tux, current ...

  • Will | November 10, 2011 2:58 PMReply

    Speaking of the Oscars, dear Anne may I ask you for a big favor?
    I imagine you will attend the Governors Awards this Sunday as you usually do. If so, could you, please, ask some board members or maybe even Tom Sherak if they are concern about the lack of female honorees among Honorary Oscars recipients or it's not an issue for them at all?
    In 83 years of the Academy Awards existence out of over 100 recipients only 9 women have been recognized for their cinematic contributions with The Academy Honorary Award.
    After they invented Governors Awards 3 years ago I've been hoping that would give them a chance to honor some legendary actresses who never won before like Angela Lansbury, Jeanne Moreau, Doris Day or Debbie Reynolds, but so far out of 8 Honorary Oscar winners only one was a woman (Lauren Bacall in 2009). Last year’s lineup was all-male and this year they chose to honor Oprah Winfrey with Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which is given exclusively for humanitarian efforts and not for lifetime achievement to the world of film and therefore is an entirely different award, but the Academy Honorary Awards went once again to men (one of which already won in competitive category).
    To be honest, to me the fact that they keep snubbing women is clearly a statement that they don’t think there is a female recipient out there who is good enough to be honored by the Academy for her cinematic contributions (even though I can easily think of at least women who are more than deserving).

    Thank you very much in advance!

    As for the host, I would love to see Hugh Jackman, Billy Crystal or Neil Patrick Harris to take the job.

  • Benjamin | November 10, 2011 2:46 PMReply

    Justin Timberlake. Justin Timberlake. Justin Timberlake.

    And I'm not even an unambiguous fan but it just seems absurd he isn't at the TOP of the conversation. When we really reflect deeply on JT it becomes clear that while he isn't, let's say, an innovative musician, or a master actor, or an hysterical comedian - he is just the right balance of all these things to... host... the... Oscars. (Go on Hulu and watch his SNL opening monologue for the Lady GaGa show and tell me that isn't EXACTly what Oscar producers are looking for year after year.) He's really the only modern equivalent of the song & dance man from Hollywood's older days WITH mass appeal across all demographics, particularly 16 to 25ers (always a major Oscar agenda). And, something he does that's so important is maintain a constant flow of self effacing comedy, never taking himself too seriously but in a way that's very contemporary, very hip.

    This isn't straight-forward JT propaganda as a pop-culture figure. Like I said, focusing solely on any one aspect of his oeuvre leads to problems, but take a LITTLE bit from each skill set and spread them out over the course of a 4-hour Oscar telecast... gold.

  • Molly Valance | November 10, 2011 2:25 PMReply

    They could select one or two comedians to host instead such as Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg, Eddie Izzard, Rowan Atkinson, Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Rob Schneider, Chris Rock, Jeremy Piven, Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, William Shatner, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Tim Allen, Chevy Chase, John Goodman, Billy Connolly, Danny DeVito, Robin Williams, George Lopez, John Cleese, Steve Coogan

  • Big Bomb | November 10, 2011 2:00 PMReply

    Seth MacFarlane. Current, but historian of pop culture. Charming, good-looking, can sing.

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