Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Not-So-Sloppy Seconds

As much as I would have liked to have seen Eddie Murphy do a turn, there's something wonderfully comfortable about having Billy Crystal to fall back on.

I'm referring to the Academy Awards, which take place this Sunday. Crystal, the actor/comedian/director, will host, as he's done so many times before.

But Billy wasn't the first choice this time.

The Academy wanted to go with Murphy as a first-time host, but not long after inking him, the show's producer, Brett Ratner---a chum of Eddie's who was instrumental in getting him the Oscar gig---quit, and a day after that, so did Murphy.

I was totally on board with the notion of Murphy escorting us through the sometimes interminable broadcast, but like I said---Crystal isn't a bad second choice.

Oh, how many funny moments Crystal has given us as Oscar host---some of them occurring in the show's opening montage.


Crystal, with the best co-star he's ever had not named Jack Palance


But one that sticks out is when the Academy honored longtime silent movie producer/director Hal Roach, 100 years young, in 1992.

Crystal pointed Roach out in the crowd, and the centenarian stood and started to speak. Unfortunately, the theater's sound system didn't pick up his words for broadcast.

Without missing a beat, and displaying his God-given ability at comedic timing, Crystal deadpanned, "I think that's fitting, after all — Mr. Roach started in silent film..."

It was one of Oscar's funniest moments. You can see it here.

There have been many more bouts of laughter, with Crystal at the helm, and no doubt there will be even more added to the list this Sunday.

So it's not a bad thing that Eddie Murphy isn't going to make his Oscar hosting debut---not when you have an old pro like Crystal ready to yuk it up.

Billy Crystal, who never really found his footing as a film star in any movie without "City Slickers" in the title, is clearly much better poking fun at the industry than he is at being in it.

We can't be good at everything, after all. Crystal has his niche, and that's more than a lot of his brethren can say.

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