Billy Crystal Says Hostless Oscars is Like "Trial Without Witnesses"

Billy Crystal - Getty - H 2020
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"I think the problem with the no host thing, perhaps, is that there's not somebody out there to capitalize on that moment," the longtime Academy Awards host said of the decision to go without an emcee for the second year in a row.

Billy Crystal doesn't agree with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC's decision to go without a host for the 2020 Oscars, set for this Sunday.

When visiting Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Thursday, Crystal said that not having a host is like "having a trial without witnesses."

Crystal has hosted the Oscars nine times, while Kimmel has served as the host twice.

"It moves faster, but it's not quite the result that you want," Crystal said of the show not having a host.

Kimmel asked if he felt that having a host was important, and Crystal answered that it is. "To me, it's the tradition of it. When we did it, I always felt I was in a line of Johnny [Carson] and Bob Hope and the people I grew up with," he said. "I always loved being out there. I loved the trust that the movie academy had in me to get me out there and I always felt like it was a great honor to do it."

"I think that when you have a show that's as long as it is, things are gonna happen," he continued. "I think the problem with the no host thing, perhaps, is that there's not somebody out there to capitalize on that moment."

Crystal then referenced the Moonlight and La La Land best picture mix-up during Kimmel's time as host in 2017.

"Some of my best moments were when something went wrong," the actor explained. "I had to introduce a 100-year-old giant in the movie industry named Hal Roach." After sharing that Roach created Our Gang comedies, The Little Rascals and Laurel and Hardy, Crystal said "he was a real father of film comedy."

During an Oscars ceremony, Crystal was supposed to introduce Roach on his 100th birthday. "He was sitting right in the second row and he was just supposed to wave on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Just stand up if he could, which he did, and just wave," he recalled. "So I said a proper introduction. 'Ladies and gentleman, 100-year-old, giant in the movie industry. We all owe him a debt of thanks. The one and only Mr. Hal Roach.'"

"So he stands up and he waves and he has no mic and then he begins to talk," Crystal said, adding that Roach spoke about meeting Charlie Chaplin for the first time and the origin of feature comedies. "He's going on and on and he's got no mic."

In an attempt to control the situation, Crystal said "lines were flying through my head." He continued, "One hit like a slot machine in Vegas and I just looked at the audience and said, 'It's very fitting because he got his start in silent films.'"

Kimmel also used the Oscars as inspiration for a segment of "Lie Witness News." In the segment, pedestrians were asked their opinions on made-up facts about the Oscar nominees.

One pedestrian was asked how he felt about "the violent daylight bank robbery" in It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. "When I first turned on the movie, I was like, 'I didn't come for this,' but to me it was quite exhilarating," he said.

Other interviewees were asked if Larry David deserved to be nominated for best supporting actor for his role as the Riddler in Joker, if the song "Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1917" should be up for best song and if Renée Zellweger's nomination for portraying Judy Jetson was earned.

One woman was asked for her take on Scarlett Johansson's 45-pound weight loss to play the rabbit in Jojo Rabbit. "I think when you do a part in a movie, you have to do it and it's amazing," she said.

Another man was asked if he liked The Two Popes, which he said is about "an Italian scientist cloning the pope." He answered, "It was a good movie, but I just think that the message wasn't exactly — they shouldn't make a movie out of something like that. I don't know. I think that that's a really terrible thing that happened and it shouldn't be glorified."

The segment concluded with a woman being asked if she thought that Ariana Grande was the right actress to play Harriet Tubman in Harriet. "At first I didn't think that she would do a good job, but after seeing it, I think she did it pretty well," she answered.