Some may enjoy the celebrity assault Ricky Gervais mounted while hosting the Golden Globes, but this year’s Academy Awards host Billy Crystal isn’t one of them. Covering Entertainment Weekly‘s annual Oscar Issue, the actor says, “That whole concept of ‘I want to really go after people’–I don’t understand that. Is it a roast or is it an awards show? Do you dislike these people?” Ahem, Mr. Gervais?
But before the Hollywood elite breathe a complete sigh of relief, they should know that Crystal doesn’t want them to get too comfortable. While Crystal, returning to the gig 21 years after his Oscar hosting debut, uses a “different bar” as a host, he’s not opposed to a friendly jab now and then. “If there’s a good target and they deserve it, you can kid them in the right way,” he says. “But it’s not the place to go out there and hammer people, because who am I? There’s many times we’ve kicked out jokes because they were too personal.”
It seems the eight-time Academy Award emcee wants to have a good time but not at the expense of the nominees. After all, the comedian-turned-actor has also been a die-hard fan of the show itself since he was six or seven years old. He recalls, “When I would first watch it … I very rarely could stay up until the Best Picture award, so my mother would write down who won and when I came into the kitchen the next morning, the list of winners would be in my cereal bowl.”
A host who’s just as big of a fan as we are? How fantastic is that? So much better than last year when Anne Hathaway tried to will fellow Oscar host James Franco into enjoying the night. But no amount of dress changes or Cheshire cat grins could win him (or their critical audience) over. For that reason, the expectation for this year’s show to be great is certainly high, to which Crystal simply says, “I’ve got to deliver.”
Will you be watching the Academy Awards tonight? How do you feel about Billy Crystal returning as the host? Which film deserves the Best Picture crown in your opinion?