Op-Ed: Billy Crystal's back at the Oscars, baby

Posted Feb 26, 2012 by Sarah Millar
Arguably the Oscars' best host ever, Billy Crystal returns to the stage this evening to emcee the 84th annual Academy Awards.
Billy Crystal  the host of the 2012 Academy Awards
Billy Crystal, the host of the 2012 Academy Awards
This is Crystal's ninth time hosting the awards show — bringing him only to the halfway mark of record holder Bob Hope, who hosted the awards 18 times. It's been eight years since the last time Crystal played host for the Oscars.
His last time hosting was in 2004, you know back when all Hollywood released were sequels and we downloaded movies. Oh, how times have changed.
Crystal wasn't supposed to host this year. Instead, Eddie Murphy was expected to grace the stage, picked by ex-Oscars producer Brett Ratner. But then Ratner uttered a gay slur ("rehearsal is for fags" he said in an interview) and quit. Murphy left too, and Oscar came calling for Crystal.
"There’s a big responsibility to the job — I think more so this year because people were not happy last year,” Crystal told Entertainment Weekly in this week's cover story. “I’ve got to deliver.”
The question is: Will he?
There's no question that Crystal is one of the best Oscar hosts ever. From his montage of nominated films featuring him, to his opening musical numbers, Crystal brings a personality that's all is.
Even when he's not 100 per cent on, Crystal is often good enough. He's also a perfect choice to come and save the day for the Oscars: He's comfortable, he's safe and people like him (they really like him).
I have high hopes for the Oscar telecast, I've always preferred the years that Crystal hosted among any other host.
My first memory of the Oscars was Crystal's first year. It was 1990. I was eight years old, watching one of the three channels I got on my little black and white television and this show with celebrities was on. I remember Crystal getting wheeled out like Hannibal Lector. I didn't know what it was referencing, but he made me laugh.
Funnily enough, Crystal's own Oscar memories began at a young age. He told EW he remembers watching the show at 6 or 7, not being able to stay awake for all of the winners. He'd come down to breakfast the next morning and his mother would have put a list of winners in his cereal bowl.
Despite Crystal being my preferred Oscars host, I have my reservations about how well his hosting job will be this year.
It seems whenever it comes to Hollywood and high expectations, disappointment very often follows. I had relatively high hopes that Anne Hathaway and James Franco might be a fun hosting duo last year. And we all know how that turned out.
The other reason I'm hesitant has nothing to do with Billy Crystal: It's simply awards show fatigue. It used to be you watched four or five awards shows a year: The Emmys, the Grammys, the Golden Globes, the Oscars and, if you cared, the Daytime Emmys in the spring.
Now it seems like there's an awards show for everything under the sun. By the time the Oscars rolls around (which is usually the last show of "awards season"), the audience — not to mention the attendees — are all awards-show tuckered out.
If the Oscars want to bring up their ratings, perhaps they need to tell the new awards shows on the block to buzz off and give them some space.
All that being said, I expect we'll be treated to one of the best Oscar telecasts in years. I'm interested to see how Crystal can carry a best picture musical medley with nine nominees (and still keep the show on time and under three hours).
We're glad to have you back, Billy.
(And hey, if Billy Crystal doesn't perform up to par, the Oscars might want to consider asking this guy to come back.)