Well, that didn’t take long. Less than 48 hours after Brett Ratner “banged” his way out of producing the Oscars, with host Eddie Murphy following suit, Brian Grazer has stepped in to take control and, together with the Academy, they’ve invested in the most safe, parent-friendly man to lead the show possible: Billy Crystal.
The actor/comedian hit Twitter today to say, “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.” And lest you think he’s just kidding around, Deadline have confirmed with the Academy that Crystal is back.
No knock against the guy. He’s been great in the 8 times he’s hosted — he’ll be remembered as one of the best there ever were — and we understand that with such a tight timeline, the Academy likely couldn’t be too outrageous with Murphy’s replacement. But Crystal seems almost way too easy, and yet another way for the Academy to once again be perceived as ruled by the old guard, totally resistant to any actual change. This has got to be a bummer for ABC who have seen ratings slip year after year, and we can’t imagine Crystal is going to make it any easier for them to sway the under-25s. But then again, neither did James Franco or Anne Hathaway, so who knows what those kids want, and as history has shown, they tend to only pay attention if something like “Avatar” is up for some major awards. Of course, the irony here is that the recent voting changes for Best Picture practically ensure that more populist movies stand little shot of getting nominated anyway.
So rest assured, Grandpa. No one is gonna cause you spill your soup as you gear up to watch Meryl Streep yet again walk the red carpet or Jack Nicholson flash his smile from the front row. The Oscars will air on February 26th.