Just as I expected, this week The Conversation is all about the Academy Awards. More specifically, this is the third roundup on Oscar-gate, Ratner-gate or whatever other label the media has affixed to the slur scandal that resulted in Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy stepping down and Brian Grazer and Billy Crystal stepping in. That's right, Crystal, the old, safe reliable, is returning to the stage once again, scratching that itch that I for one believe should have just been scratched from the beginning. It will be his ninth time emceeing the event and his first since 2004.
Sorry Muppets fans. At least you have a new movie out soon, which some think was the whole point of the campaign anyway.
Maybe it's because I'm old, maybe it's because I don't think the Oscars are the place for edginess, but I'm happy that Crystal is back. I look forward to his opening parodies of the Best Picture nominees, which I predict will involve cameos from Uggy the dog, George Clooney and the women from The Help. It's also fitting that the last time he hosted a third installment of a series (LOTR: Return of the King) won the top prize, since this year another third installment (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory) could win another big award. Actually, maybe it can take the big award, for all those films have done to save lives. Ah, a documentary lover can dream.
And of course Grazer will be crazy not to let the Muppets on stage in some capacity. Even Disney head Bob Iger says he "wouldn't count the Muppets out." Won't it likely be nominated for Best Original Song anyway? Actually, they'll probably be in the opening montage, as well. Hopefully bringing together Crystal, Muppets and Carol Kane. Yeth? Yeth!
A lot of people disagree that Crystal was the right choice, though most will still watch or not watch the same as if anyone else hosted. What are others saying about the actor's return to the Kodak? Here's The Conversation heard around the blogosphere and Twitter:
In 1990 Crystal rode to the rescue with his first Oscar hosting gig after the disaster of the previous year’s Allan Carr show in which Rob Lowe sang with Snow White. This year history repeats itself and Crystal is back to save the Oscars from themselves yet again. - Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood
I’m on board with Billy Crystal. He’s a bit safe, but sometimes that’s okay. - Katey Rich, Cinema Blend
It’s a smart move by the producing team, and a welcome return for Crystal in perhaps the most comfortable role he’s ever played on screen. - Dan Mecca, The Film Stage
He’s a completely unmemorable host. He’s safe. He plays from the Don Rickles playbook, minus the racism. He’s amiable, a nice guy, and he won’t offend anyone or ruffle any feathers. My feathers were looking forward to a good ruffling. [...] I bet your grandmother is stoked. - Dustin Rowles, Pajiba
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. - Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist
This makes a lot more sense. Yeah, it’s predictable and obvious, but in a way you can’t blame the Academy for going back to a tried and tested host since most of their attempts to branch out have failed miserably. - Sean Dwyer, Film Junk
Quite stupidly, for years now, the Academy has been trying to skew “young” in order to prop up their cratering ratings. But this is the very reason why the telecast has been so dismal. Anne Hathaway and James Franco? Let’s hope that the return of Crystal proves through the ratings that class is the real key to a successful telecast. - John Nolte, Big Hollywood
His trademark opening musical medleys and movie spoofs. His easy, joking rapport with A-list movie stars. His nimble ability to play both to the room of Hollywood industry insiders and to the worldwide television audience of movie fans. [...] at least for me: Billy is pretty much the only person for the job. - Adam B. Vary, Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch
Not to say that Crystal wasn't a great host when he helmed the show a number of times in the '90s and '00s, but the man hasn't been relevant for more than a decade, and isn't nearly as spry as when he did his famous song and dance opening numbers some 20 years ago. I hope that as I suggested yesterday he gets a bunch of other hosting veterans to help him carry the burden. - Brian Moylan, Gawker
The only concern I have is that Crystal has gained a little...actually more than a little weight over the last decade or so. All movie stars have big heads, but Crystal's is the size of a medicine...I mean, a basketball. - Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere
(How about Crystal and Murphy co-hosting?)
@ArsenioOFFICIAL: Ahem! My Oscar seats are NOT gonna be real good, this year now that Billy Crystal is hosting! #aarrrrggg
@DrewAtHitFix: So glad Billy Crystal is hosting again this year. I was afraid they'd make a choice that would get me to actually watch the show.
@miKEiggY267: I think I would rather have Justin Bieber's baby host the Oscars over Billy Crystal... Who am I kidding. #NotWatchingOscars Anyways
@cigarsNscotch: I find it fitting that this year's Oscars will be another shitty remake of prior Oscars. I hope Footloose wins big!!
@scottEweinberg: Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars is like hearing Stairway to Heaven on the radio. Nobody cares.
@lennyukdeejay: ...but, seven minutes later, you discover you've sat there and listened to every last second. #strue
@Da7e: Oscars have sent a message: "Fuck you, people who like to see new and exciting television" Message received.
@Carpie2112: Oh please indeed. Crystals the best host of my lifetime. And if last year is 'new and exciting' you can have it sir...
@nealbrennan: Thank-you for listening to us, Oscar! Billy Crystal is the perfect combination of Betty White and the Muppets.
@Carlstormm: Seriously, Ms. Piggy has way more charisma than Billy Crystal. Billy's great, but he could never sweet talk Kermit. #Oscars #Muppets
@zeldawilliams: To all you Billy Crystal naysayers, turn off reality TV, watch some grown up movies and look up his previous Oscar hosting gigs. #BestChoice
@richardroeper: I can hear Billy Crystal singing now now: "Long before the days of Yelp!, who'd we turn to, 'The Help'!"
@mousterpiece: Zero excitement.
@MusicFilmWeb: getting excited for Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars is like getting excited for mac 'n' cheese. it's pleasant enough but ...
@TPRCinema: Not hugely [excited]. But then my favorite memories are usually of spontaneity from presenters and winners, not the host.
@RyanFerguson83: I'm very excited about Crystal hosting the Oscars! Should be lots o' fun
@BetteMidler: My partner in crime, Billy Crystal to host Oscars! Yaaaaayyyyy!//He's bringing funny back to the Oscars!
@kirstiealley: YAY!!! Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars!!! YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!
Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.