Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heeeeree's NOT Johnny!

Johnny Carson is dead.

No news here, I know, but I mean more than just Carson dead in a physical sense, which occurred just over six years ago.

I mean, Johnny is dead in the same way as pay phones, drive-in theaters, and chivalry.

Specifically, Johnny Carson is dead in a "Who's good at hosting the Oscars?" sort of way.

Carson did it brilliantly---emceeing the Academy Awards five times (1979-82, 1984), providing the perfect blend of wit, sarcasm, irony and class as he shepherded the sometimes seemingly interminable production through the evening.

Not that others didn't host the show with aplomb---Billy Crystal comes to mind---but this blog post serves to lament that there just isn't another Carson out there today who can do what Johnny did during the Oscars telecast, which takes place again this Sunday night.

David Letterman gave it the old college try on more than one occasion, but he had the smarm factor that Johnny wouldn't, couldn't bring to the podium.

Johnny Carson, for example, would never had tried the whole "Uma, Oprah" thing.

Yes, it's another occasion where I'm living in the past, being curmudgeonly and cranky about today's entertainment landscape.

This year, Oscar will try co-hosts: James Franco and Anne Hathaway, who looks like she could have posed for the svelte trophy and who looks like she weighs about as much as Oscar does, too.

But tell me: who is Carson-like right now, in the entertainment biz?


Carson, during one of his five turns hosting the Oscars


Who is self-effacing, disarming, funny, and mystical, as Johnny was?

Regis Philbin, who's retiring from his morning talk show he co-hosts with Kelly Ripa?

Anyone else?

Regis might do a good job if ever given the Oscar reins, which is something I'd like to see, actually.

Steve Martin wasn't a bad host, but he was an insider.

Johnny Carson wasn't replaced by Jay Leno, and he really wasn't replaced as Oscars host, despite Crystal's funny takes.

The other alluring thing about Carson as Oscars host was that you hardly ever saw Johnny outside of his "Tonight Show" milieu. He didn't exactly make the rounds when he wasn't doing "Tonight" in Burbank.

So whenever he was on television outside the comforts of his studio---and wearing a tuxedo, no less---you knew something special was happening.

It was most certainly something special when Carson hosted the Oscars.

So here's to Franco and Hathaway. Godspeed, you two.

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