Now, I know what you’re thinking. Jackson, didn’t you write a piece in March – just after this year’s Academy Awards – stating that Matthew McConaughey should host the 2019 Oscars?
As Phineas from “Phineas and Ferb” would say, “Yes. Yes I did.”
But in the nearly 8 months since then, things have changed a bit. McConaughey himself should be in the Best Supporting Actor conversation for “White Boy Rick”, released in September. If he finds his way to the Oscars for this performance (which won’t be easy, but isn’t impossible), having to also host the ceremony may not be the best strategy. Look at what happened with James Franco and Seth MacFarlane, who hosted the same year they were both nominated.
Jimmy Kimmel is great. He’s the most relevant host on late night TV today, and he has masterfully commanded two unpredictable, challenging and entertaining Oscars ceremonies in a row. I told him so when I met him outside his show in July, and he gave me a fist bump.
If The Academy asked him to return again this February, I wouldn’t be upset at all. But I don’t know if he’d be guaranteed to say “Yes”. He might be exhausted (mentally and creatively) from two efforts in a row. He also may want to go back to his highly rated, star-studded post-Oscars show. Plus, there are the new, highly publicized time constraints.
So, if Kimmel is out, who should The Academy bring in to emcee the 91st Academy Awards? The answer is more obvious than you might think. It’s Billy Crystal. And here are 5 reasons why he’d be perfect:
1.) It’d be his 10th Time
Billy Crystal is second only to Bob Hope for number of times someone has hosted the Oscars. Hope has 18 (some places say 19), while Crystal has 9. A 10th time certainly has a nice ring to it.
2.) Speaking of Time
The Academy has announced that they are finally putting a time limit on The Oscars: 3 Hours. The show is expected to air from 8-11pmET. Crystal replaced Eddie Murphy as host of the 2012 show, and that ceremony is tied with Chris Rock’s 2005 show for the shortest Oscars ceremony of the past 30 years, at 3 hours & 14 minutes. Crystal will know how to keep the show moving swiftly.
As someone who’s done this 9 previous times, Crystal can pretty much call the shots. He will certainly have a lot to say about the fact that not all 24 categories will be presented live. According to The Academy, 6-8 of them will be done during the commercial break. Expect an attack-based monologue, like many of his in the past (and maybe that musical number, too).
4.) He’d Make History
In terms of movies, TV shows or entertainment-related projects, it seems that lately we don’t hear from Crystal more than about once a year. Now 70, Crystal would be the oldest host of an Oscar ceremony since… Hope himself emceed for the final time in 1978, at age 74. Everyone likes a comeback story and an underdog story. An older person hosting a show that, as much as it will try, will never skew younger, shows The Oscars still has class.
5.) The Ratings Don’t Matter Anymore
Crystal’s 2012 Oscars is the 4th highest-rated of the past 10 years, with 39.5 million. The Oscars has dropped significantly since the 2014 high of 43.74 million for host Ellen DeGeneres. In 2015: 37.3M (Neil Patrick Harris). In 2016: 34.4M (Chris Rock). In 2017: 33M (Kimmel No. 1). And this year with Kimmel back: a staggering drop to 26.5M.
But that proved something: The Oscars will go on know matter how many people are watching. ABC is contracted to air the show through 2028. The world will certainly be a lot different a decade from now – and at that time – streaming (or some other concoction) may be the sole way to go.
But the host isn’t the draw of The Oscars anymore. Virtually the same number of people will watch The Oscars in February whether Billy Crystal or Jimmy Kimmel or Joe Schmoe hosts it. It’s about the movies themselves, the star-studded nominees and the potential to create moments.
And I’ve already got the marketing tagline for Crystal as host: #OneMoreTime