The Conversation: Should Brett Ratner Scratch Billy Crystal's Oscar Itch?

The Conversation: Should Brett Ratner Scratch Billy Crystal's Oscar Itch?

Aug 16, 2011

We've had seven Academy Awards since Billy Crystal last hosted the event in 2004, but he's hardly fading from our memory or our hearts. Recall, if you will, the actor's standing ovation this past February when he made a surprise appearance at the 83rd Oscars. Is it time for him to return to the Kodak stage for the lead role next year? He is our generation's Bob Hope, after all, but he's still ten ceremonies short of reaching that guy's record 18 gigs as host, so I say yes. 

And Crystal might say yes, too, if asked. New remarks from the eight-time Oscar emcee have been circulating online, via, in which he told fans at a 20th anniversary screening of City Slickers that he's "itchy" to come back (to the Academy Awards, not for City Slickers 3: The Return of Danny Robbins). Here's what he told the crowd about his break from the position and affirmation of regained interest:

"It got to be too much after a while and the sameness in my life. That's why I pulled back. And then when I thought I might want to do it again, they were on to other people. It's always fun. It's really hard, but maybe one or two more times? I don't know. They know where I am...

Of course, this isn't the first time he's mentioned he'd be interested, but it's hard to imagine a better choice, especially after the disastrous mockery made by James Franco this year. And that parody trailer for When Harry Met Sally 2 this year proved he's still got the goods for movie spoofing. Now it's just up to producers Brett Ratner and Don Mischer to decide. Ratner, who is currently busy directing Tower Heist, gave the following response to Deadline last night: "I was told by the Academy that I don't have to make a decision until mid-September." 

Start the month-long fan campaigning? Here's what the conversation is like around the web:


Fairly or not, everyone expects Ratner to fail miserably, but if he were to bring Crystal back into the fold, he'd be all but bulletproof. If the show ends up stinking, he can just shrug his shoulders and say, "Hey, I gave everyone what they wanted—it didn’t work." And if he nails it, he can look over at Billy, laugh, and say, "See, folks, it's just not that hard." - Scott Ross, PopcornBiz

If Crystal were to return to hosting duties, I have no doubt ratings would improve thanks to the enormous amount of goodwill he’s built up over the last few decades. However, if Hollywood ever wants to return to that golden era when watching the Academy Awards telecast was a national viewing experience, they have much, much bigger issues to deal with. - John Nolte, Big Hollywood

It could be a choice between Crystal and Neil Patrick Harris. Either should be able to improve upon recent efforts and the audience in the Kodak Theatre are sure to lap it up. But will there be a significant TV audience watching at home? That may be a losing battle no host can win. - Glen Levy, Time

My best guess is that Rattner has been brought in to once again try to young-up the Oscars.  So it’s hard to imagine they’d ever go back in time with Billy Crystal.  I don’t see how it could possibly get any worse, though.  At least with Billy Crystal you pretty much know what you’re going to get — and it’s a reminder of a time when watching the Oscars was actually fun. - Sasha Stone, Awards Daily

On the one hand, his presence could alleviate fears over the Ratner-Misher combo behind-the-scenes.  There is absolutely no way Crystal would let the show unravel to the point of dysfunction that seemed to be the mantra of the last two years.  And yet, standing ovation aside, Crystal's short monologue during the last Oscar telecast made him seem out of touch and, well, a bit too old school.  - Gregory Ellwood, HitFix


@superlau77: I am an Oscar expert (a pundit, if you will) + I am telling you that when Billy Crystal says he wants to host, you let Billy Crystal host.

@firstshowing: I'd actually like to see this, he needs to come back!

@billycorben: Best news for America in months

@nationallampoon: No-brainer.

@kmac23: One can only hope...

@joshbrunsting: On what planet does a Billy Crystal Oscar ceremony in 2012-beyond sound good? Am I just crazy?

@nathandonarum: I heard they're going to exhume Bob Hope to co-host with him.

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