Oscar Shake-up: Hollywood Weighs In on New Host Billy Crystal, Producer Brian Grazer
Many in Hollywood are applauding the Academy's move to hire Billy Crystal and Brian Grazer as host and producer, respectively, of this year's Oscar telecast.
The news of their hiring came last week after Brett Ratner departed Tuesday as producer amid a slew of controversial and offensive comments -- including saying that "rehearsals are for fags." Host Eddie Murphy, who is on the big screen in Ratner's latest movie,Tower Heist, announced his own departure the following day.
The news instantly led to speculation that Crystal -- an eight-time Oscar host -- would be tapped to step into the hosting role once again. Crystal has been praised for his hosting work on the show in the past, but many critics called him and Grazer "safe" choices compared with the producer-host duo of Ratner and Murphy, which was seemingly intended to be more edgy and lure younger viewers.
Academy president Tom Sherak quipped about the week's events at Saturday night's Governors Awards honoring Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones and makeup artist Dick Smith in Los Angeles.
Dressed in a Darth Vadar costume (in reference to the character Jones voiced in the Star Wars movies), Sherak asked the audience, "How was your week?"
But many in Hollywood were praising the Academy for their choices over the weekend, including Amy Adams, a three-time Oscar nominee. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter at the movie's premiere Saturday in Hollywood if she had any advice for Crystal, she replied: "It's Billy Crystal. He knows what he's doing."
Director Adam Shankman (Rock of Ages, Hairspray), who previously produced the Oscar telecast, also praised the Academy.
"Lesson learned," he told the Los Angeles Times. "They handled it well, made really smart choices."
Don Mischer, who was set to produce the show with Ratner and now will work alongside Grazer, said he can't wait to work with Crystal.
"I think it will be a great moment when Billy walks on stage ... something of a homecoming," he told the Times, adding that Ratner "felt really bad" about what transpired. "He's his own worst enemy."
Some of the Academy's board of governors also were pleased with the organization's action to fill the vacancies in a timely manner.
"It was an amazing week," Marvin Levy told the Times. "I'm very happy with the outcome, and I think the majority of the academy is too. I'm also happy with how they handled it. We have a problem. Let's fix it. Done. Moving on."
Another governor who asked to remain anonymous praised Crystal, telling the New York Times that the actor is a "mensch" at the Governors Awards. According to the Times, the governor "pretty much spoke for the room."
Meanwhile, THR also spoke to Christophe Beck -- who composed the music for Ratner's Tower Heist -- at the premiere of his most recent effort, The Muppets. Stone said he was "completely surprised by the whole thing" and came to Ratner's defense.
Ratner "always likes to be funny and push things a little bit," he said. "I think he just made a big mistake with that one. He's honestly the least homophobic person I know."
Beck, who admitted he hadn't spoken with Ratner since the new broke, added that Crystal and Grazer are smart choices to replace Murphy and Ratner.
"I think [the telecast] is going to be great," he said. "They obviously went with a little bit of a safe choice. That isn't a bad thing considering the situation they're in."
Adams' Muppets co-star Kristen Schaal echoed that sentiment.
Crystal "does a good job and he's really funny," she told THR on the red carpet. "I think sometimes everybody sort of gives the Oscars a hard time. I think no matter what happens, the snark police are going to come out, so I hope he has a snark police shield. I love the Oscars, and I don't know why we have to be so picky about them."
She also has a suggestion for the new producers: "I would love them to have Stalter and Waldorf [the Muppets characters who sat in the balcony and criticized all the ongoings] up in the balcony picking on the winners."