Earlier this week, Eddie Murphy bailed as host of the Oscars after his Tower Heist producer, Brett Ratner, was booted from producing the awards for using an anti-gay slur in a press conference. The Academy moved quickly to hire a new producer, Brian Grazer, and now for Murphy’s replacement, it’s decided to go straight for its comfort zone. Billy Crystal, who has hosted the awards eight times and was on Saturday Night Live with Murphy back when the Honeydrippers were a thing,* will return to the show. Crystal on Thursday tweeted the announcement, which was later confirmed by Hollywood trade outlets.
When the Academy announced Murphy as host, I wasn’t entirely sure they were thinking. But here it seems pretty clear: the Academy doesn’t want two problems in the same year, and Bob Hope’s dead, so it’s going with the known-est of known quantities. Crystal’s a pro, a reliable entertainer, and can be relied on not to flake out. You know what you’re getting with Crystal—your grandpa was possibly served some variation of it in the Catskills—and there should be no untoward surprises.
All of which is not necessarily a terrible thing. When Crystal made a guest splash at the Oscars last year, his appearance was a refreshing break. (Then again, it was a refreshing break in a show hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway.) If nothing else, it will certainly be a change from last year, and will have some nostalgia value for your more advanced viewers. Myself included: Mrs. Tuned In and I cannot watch an Oscars without at some point breaking into his “Will it be Silence of the Lambs / Or J– F– K!!!” medley from 1992–
Let’s just hope Crystal has his act together. Or Jan Hooks, you’re next.
* Thanks Danny Groner for the video tip.