Oscar Loses Billy

Published December 7th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Comedian Billy Crystal, whose quick wit and polish have made him the clear emcee of choice for the Academy Awards in recent years, said this week he’ll have no time to prepare for the March 25 Oscars show because he will just be wrapping up his latest film project, America’s Sweethearts, reported Mr. Showbiz. 

“If everything goes according to plan, I’ll just be finishing a new movie on March 22. I can’t host the show … days later,” he told Fox News.com

He added that the movie parody montage he created for the opening of the last Oscars ceremony “took two months of planning. You don’t realize. It’s a lot of work.”  

A spokeswoman for Crystal said today his remarks were in response to a “hypothetical question” posed to the actor-comedian about whether he would do the show again if asked. 

Crystal’s appearance for the 72nd Oscars show in March 2000 marked his seventh stint as host of the movie industry’s premiere awards since 1990.  

And so, the race is on for who will be taking over this year’s ceremonies. 

The 1999 show was emceed by actress-comedian Whoopi Goldberg, whose sometimes ribald performance garnered mixed reviews, but she reportedly has ruled out hosting the Oscars again in the foreseeable future. 

In his remarks to Fox News.com, Crystal said the ideal Oscar emcee would be someone associated with the movies and skilled at ad lib humor. He suggested that comic film actor Jim Carrey, though twice snubbed by the Oscars for dramatic roles, would make a good host for the awards. Carrey is currently in theaters in the title role of the holiday smash hit Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

“I asked him to be part of the film [parody] last year, in the shower scene that Kevin Spacey finally agreed to. But Jim has some bad feelings about not being nominated for his roles in The Truman Show and Man on the Moon. It’s not like he was in a box office flop. I mean, Kevin Costner helped us out after The Postman. It’s just in good fun.” 

Crystal also floated the names of NBC’s Tonight Show host Jay Leno, or late-night CBS rival David Letterman, who made a critically panned turn as host in 1995.  

Meanwhile, although Crystal has hosted the Awards various times, he has not once won an Oscar. 

On the professional level, he is currently co-writing America’s Sweethearts and is starring in the romantic comedy with Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The film, directed by former Disney studio chief Joe Roth, starts shooting Jan. 10. 

Crystal’s publicist said he also will be busy with a cable TV movie he is directing and producing for HBO, titled 61+, about the 1961 race between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris for the title of home run king. She said that production is due to premiere in April. 

Crystal has earned four Emmy Awards for his writing and hosting of the Oscars, which are presented each year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  

The show was hosted by Crystal for four consecutive years beginning in 1990. He then took a three-year hiatus and returned to host for two more years in 1997 and 1998, took another year off in 1999 and came back for the 2000 awards. 

“He’s obviously always done a fantastic job, and we know the audience loves him,” said academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger. Choosing an emcee for the show is the responsibility of the show’s producer, who has yet to be selected. 

The 73rd annual Academy Awards will be telecast live from the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles. Nominees will be announced Feb. 13. – Albawaba.com. 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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