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Leave it to a fan to pose the one question everybody is dying to ask Billy Crystal. During a Q&A following the 20th Anniversary screening of City Slickers at Santa Monica's Aero Theatre, the subject turned to the Oscars.

According to The Envelope, "Crystal...admitted that he got 'itchy' after this year's cameo on the Oscars and that he'd be ready to talk about a return to the global stage of the gala." Crystal has acted as the show's emcee eight times. He last anchored in 2003 and since then it's been a near unending string of bad choices on the part of the Academy.

Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres are TV gabfest ringmasters. They shouldn't be allowed a seat in the Kodak Theatre, let alone hosting chores. Chris Rock is a very funny man, but you couldn't prove it come Oscar night. Hugh Jackman turned it into the Tony Awards and the one/two punch of James Franco and Anne Hathaway never connected. Only Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin kept me laughing throughout, but the ratings were anything but rib-tickling.

Why must it always be performers and comedians moderating the annual golden giveaway? The first Academy Awards show was hosted by Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and C.B.'s brother, and a terrific director in his own right, William DeMille. Why don't more directors host the show?

Counting DeMille, seven directors (Frank Capra, John Cromwell, Joesph L. Mankiewicz, John Huston, Jerry Lewis, Warren Beatty) have acted as Oscar's innkeeper since the ceremony kicked off at the Hollywood Roosevelt back in 1929. One-shot hosts Robert Montgomery, Dick Powell, Alan Alda, Walter Matthau, and Jack Lemmon all spent time in the director's chair, but generally their names above the title indicate acting excellence, not directorial dazzle.

Why doesn't the Academy select six auteurs to oversee the festivities? Can you imagine the Punch and Judy show Marty and Abel Ferrara would put on? A two-out-of-three falls grudge match between Jean-Luc Godard and Spielberg would be a ratings bonanza. And for the youngsters in the audience, get Gaspar Noé and Christopher Nolan to host backwards.

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Comments

John71471 Aug. 16, 2011 @ 9:16 a.m.

Get Kevin Smith to host it. He'll come out on stage wearing his hockey jersey, shorts and sneakers and make jokes about d*cks, farts and "Cop Out".

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Scott Marks Aug. 16, 2011 @ 9:24 a.m.

Howard Stern. It will never happen, but I can dream, can't I?

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CurtainCall Aug. 16, 2011 @ 9:55 a.m.

Jim Carrey has reached that Elder Statesman Comedian status that seems to be a prerequisite these days. Why not him?

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Scott Marks Aug. 16, 2011 @ 7:59 p.m.

My problem with someone like Carrey or Robin Williams is that these guys make a career out of breaking character, not making characters. A little of Carrey's mugging goes a long way and without wit (or a good writing team) to back him up, I'd be reaching for the remote somewhere around the award for Best Sound Editing. Honestly, the best man for the job is Albert Brooks. No one knows showbiz like Albert, but his material would sail over the heads of the average viewer (and more than a few attendees). Better yet, have the stiffs from Price & Waterhouse pin a list of the winner's names on a bulletin board and everyone can go home early.

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Colonna Aug. 16, 2011 @ 12:26 p.m.

Kirk Douglas was the best thing about last year's telecast - give him hosting duties.

If not Kirk, the Academy proved that showing clips of His Holiness Hope still brought the house down with laughter. Imagine the buzz (not to mention ratings) - a virtual Bob Hope hosting for the 19th time!

Get Dave Thomas to do the voice, cull every image of Bob from the Oscar telecasts and ALL of Bob's specials (including Vietnam!), and put those UCLA/Academy film students to work!

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Scott Marks Aug. 16, 2011 @ 3:51 p.m.

Not many people know it, but Bob was a special effect for the last 30 years of his life.

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Colonna Aug. 16, 2011 @ 6:45 p.m.

Bob "Animatron" Hope for Texaco, eh?

That explains why during his visit to the newly-opened Berlin Wall in 1990 he kept asking a East German guard "Let me see your hat..."

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Scott Marks Aug. 19, 2011 @ 9:40 a.m.

After least year's show didn't we all agree that Oscar 2011 should be hosted by Kirk and a digitally resurrected Hope?

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Scott Marks Aug. 16, 2011 @ 7:51 p.m.

They'd reenact the hot dog scene from "Dirty Harry."

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blueprl Aug. 17, 2011 @ 2:33 a.m.

I was in the Aero audience and can verify that Billy Crystal is in top form. Let's hope he says yes to the Oscars. Paul Mazursky and Nick Nolte appeared for discussion four days later at the Aero to celebrate the 25th anniversary of DOWN & OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS. They're obviously good friends, very sharp, and entertained us with charming, humorous stories and perfect timing. Future Oscar hosts?

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Scott Marks Aug. 17, 2011 @ 8:11 a.m.

You were in the Aero audience the night it happened and you didn't give me the scoop?

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blueprl Aug. 17, 2011 @ 9:50 a.m.

I thought I did, but I also thought I saw a puuthey cat...

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 19, 2011 @ 9:48 a.m.

Anne HAthaway and James Franco were average AT BEST.

Billy Crystal is by far the best host in the last 20-30 years.

Come on, Billy is a riot-and when you compare him to Letterman he is the funniest comedian of all-time.

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Scott Marks Aug. 19, 2011 @ 12:15 p.m.

Letterman puts out one hour of original television a night, eight months of the year. Dave certainly isn't what he once was, but Crystal couldn't get arrested for his output over the past decade. We only hear from him when he falls back on his laurels by appearing on some awards ceremony or showing up at a salute to one of his timeworn movies. Admittedly, for whatever reason Letterman does not click as an awards host, but at least he's still out there slugging away (almost) every night. The days of Fernando and "Joe Franklin" are long gone. I find Letterman to be infinitely sharper and more appealing than the smug, self-appointed Corporate Spokesperson for American comedy. (How dare he try and dethrone Jerry!!!) Crystal's funniest film is the excruciatingly mawkish misfire "Mr. Saturday Night."

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 19, 2011 @ 4:59 p.m.

But you're trying to compar Billy to talk show host and feaure length movies!

He may or may not be good at either, and may or may not be as good at being a tlak show host as Letterman (whoom I find one fo the WORST), but that is not the point here, we are talking OSARS!

And IMO Billy sets the bar very high as Oscar host. In fact the funniest skit I ever saw was the one where he spooefed almost ever major movie of the year-I think it was 1998 b/c I remember Titanic and The Postman a Kevin Costner flop.

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