Awards Season

The Academy Punts As Billy Crystal Signs On For The Oscarzzzz...

Billy Crystal, seen here at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' tribute to Sophia Loren in May 2011, will host the 2012 Oscars. i

Billy Crystal, seen here at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' tribute to Sophia Loren in May 2011, will host the 2012 Oscars. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Billy Crystal, seen here at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' tribute to Sophia Loren in May 2011, will host the 2012 Oscars.

Billy Crystal, seen here at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' tribute to Sophia Loren in May 2011, will host the 2012 Oscars.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

After earning poor notices for last year's experiment with Anne Hathaway and James Franco, only to wind up in the middle of a controversy after turning over this year's ceremony to producer Brett Ratner and host Eddie Murphy and losing them both to fallout from Ratner's boneheaded public comments, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is going back inside the box — the boxiest part of the box.

The producer: Brian Grazer, Hollywood giant who produced easily digested Oscar bait like A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13. And the host, announced yesterday: Billy Crystal, who's hosted eight times before, starting back in 1989 when Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture. Names from Neil Patrick Harris to Tom Hanks to The Muppets had been floated, but no — Grazer and the Academy are going with Billy "Medley Of The Road" Crystal.

There's nothing wrong with Crystal hosting the Oscars. He does a good job, he certainly isn't going to fall on his face, and viewers know what they're going to get. For many of us, the Crystal-hosted Oscars are the ones we learned on. These are uncomfortable times for awards shows, and it's not surprising that Crystal, who is home and hearth for many of Oscar's fickle viewers and won't need nearly as much preparation as someone who's never done it before would require, was the pick.

At the same time, it does represent kicking the can down the road a bit and putting off dealing with a problem that still exists, despite the fact that neither Francothaway nor Ratner was able to solve it. Oscar night is pretty old in tone, and much of the audience that still goes out and actually spends money at the box office is young. The telecast still gets huge ratings, but it would be nice to see them find a way that someone under 60 could host without the place falling apart. They've tried adjusting the format a bit, but many of those experiments — like having actors give group tributes to other actors in categories — have seemed, in a word, weird, rather than fun.

Perhaps it's a quirk of having to cover the Oscars for work, but it's hard not to feel like we've already seen the 2012 show, and while it may be good, the possibilities of anything unexpected occurring have dropped from Maybe to No Way. It's a very pragmatic thing to return to what people know and like, and perhaps it's unfair to regret the opportunities for chaos that have obviously been avoided.

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