European Stars And Stripes
Hanks, Williams good picks to take Oscar host job
By JACK MATHEWS
January 30, 1994
Though it was only recently announced that Billy Crystal would not be returning for a fifth year as host of the March 21 Academy Awards telecast, Hollywood insiders say the producers of the show have been searching for his replacement for more than a month and they have already been turned down by such personable luminaries as Bette Midler, Steve Martin, Whoopi Goldberg and host emeritus Johnny Carson.
Gilbert Cates, who began producing the show the first year Crystal appeared, would not comment on his search for a new host. But just two years ago, he had the perfect candidate all set and ready to step in if Crystal, bedridden with the flu, had been unable to make it to the stage.
Three days before that 1992 telecast, Cates called Tom Hanks and asked him .if he would sub for Crystal if he was needed. And Hanks, to the producer’s great relief, agreed.
Now that Crystal has taken himself out, citing a bad case of hostitus (he has also emceed three Grammys and six Comic Relief events), Cates should consider redialing Hanks’number and offering him the job, with two months’ notice.
The producer’s instincts were right about Hanks as host; he has charm, dignity, wit, intelligence and, it’s worth mentioning, he’s a movie star!
You would rather have Howard Stern?
Robin Williams would also make a great host. He’s Robin Williams an actor, he’s funny, and everyone loves him. He has
also been up there before, sharing the host duties.
But Academy sources think he’s a bit too unpredictable for a 3-hour solo on live television. If they could get Williams, they would be fools not to turn him loose and take their chances.
The Academy Awards shows we remember with the greatest fondness are those that almost got away and attempts to make it comfortable for network executives have nearly ruined it for everyone else.
Hanks has apparently not been approached, cither, on the reasoning that it would be inappropriate for someone nominated for an Oscar, as he is certain to be for his performance in Philadelphia, to double as host. That could be working against Williams, as well, though the odds on his receiving a nomination for Mrs. Doubt fire are much longer.
In any event, the Academy routinely has presenters on the show who are also nominees, and other awards shows have survived such scandals.
If not Hanks or Williams, who? Because Carson had such a successful run as Oscar host, people are throwing out the names of TV talk-show hosts Jay Lcno, David Letterman and Arsenio Hall.
Even Regis Philbin has volunteered for the job from-the pulpit of his own morning TV show. Weirdly, Chevy Chase, the 1987 Oscar emcee, seems to have been disqualified for having bombed as a TV talk-show host himself.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ought to remind itself that though the Oscar show is a television event, the subject is movies.
The host doesn’t have to be a professional wisecracker. Lionel Barrymore did it in 1932. Send Jack Nicholson or Barbra Streisand up there. Hollywood is in even worse shape than we thought if it can’t find a genial host among its own members.