The most politically fraught part of the Oscars these days seems to be the choice of a host. Whoever ends up hosting is seen as a representative of the whole American film industry to the entire world, and every aspect of their personal beliefs and public statements are dissected and examined on social media. Naturally, a lot of people who get asked to host are reluctant to take up the responsibility. Billy Crystal is one of the most successful Oscar hosts in the history of the organization, but even he admitted in a recent interview that he would be hesitant to take the job nowadays.
“No, they haven’t [asked me to host the Oscars], but that’s okay. I had nine wonderful experiences for me, some better than the others. But most of them were really wonderful experiences, to host a show and be funny and keep the audience awake, both at home and in the audience. It’s a tough gig, because when I first started, there were three critics – that, if you cared about critics, there were three that you paid attention to – which was Tom Shales in The Washington Post, Janet Maslin in The New York Times, and Howard Rosenberg in The LA Times. They were all top notch. Now there’s 2 billion critics, and they press ‘send’ right away. It’s a whole different scrutiny on the job, which makes a lot of people not want to do it. I wish them luck.”
As Crystal points, what used to be a few noted critics reviewing the Oscars ceremony in the papers the next day has today given way to thousands of analysts live-tweeting the show as it runs. From the choice of jokes to the choice of nominations to the race, gender, and political leanings of the Oscars committee, everything is examined pitilessly and outraged over. And that’s even before getting into the various controversies such as #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite that the host needs to either sidestep or address tastefully.
In such a sensitive climate, it is almost impossible to come up with The Academy Awards hosting routine that would not offend anyone, and also manage to be entertaining, and also suitably heartfelt. But while Crystal does not seem to be in a mood to take up the challenge, he did express his hope that the ceremony ends up being a success this year.
“I hope it’s a really good show, and I hope people watch. Award shows during this time, do they really mean something now? It’s been such a hard year, but the Oscars are special. And I sincerely hope that they have a great show.”
Fans will be saddened to hear Crystal might never host the Oscars again. But the actor is keeping busy with other projects in film and television. Meanwhile, Winners for the 93rd Academy Awards will be announced on Sunday, April 25. The actual ceremony is set to air on ABC at 8 PM ET. This news originated at IndieWire.