TV Legends: Oscar Hosts

Andrew Hetherington

Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal | Photographed by Andrew Hetherington on Dec. 6 at Tisch School of the Arts Gala, Lincoln Center, New York.

From one Oscar host to another: Billy Crystal, 62, has a few words of advice for rookies Anne Hathaway and James Franco. “After the monologue, wear sneakers.” And? “Look like you really want to be there, and hope that something happens you can capitalize on.” Also, “you gotta study,” warns Crystal, who would spend about four months preparing before each of his eight hosting gigs. Crystal hasn’t spoken to Hathaway or Franco yet, but he did call Whoopi Goldberg before her first turn as Oscar host in 1994. (She went on to emcee three more times.) “He sent me a bunch of balloons so I could pop them when I got nervous,” Goldberg, 55, says of her first go-round as host — she spent “the whole evening” exploding them. Goldberg, who once went into a panic backstage between segments because she momentarily lost a $400,000 piece of diamond jewelry, advises the new hosts to focus on the final two minutes of the opening monologue. “Nobody is listening after the first three-and-a-half minutes because they really want to know, ‘Did I win?’ ” Above all, “have fun,” says Robin Williams, 59, who hosted with Alan Alda and Jane Fonda in 1985. “The moment you’re out there, it’s like, how far can you go? How much fun can you make? It’s always that weird line. Push the envelope, baby!”          

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