Billy Crystal returning to host the Oscars

Credit: Reuters/Gary Hershorn
Credit: Reuters/Gary Hershorn
AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Billy Crystal, a veteran Oscar host, said Thursday on Twitter that he has agreed to host the Feb. 26, 2012, Academy Awards. It will be his ninth such stint.

"Some of the best moments of my career have happened on the Oscar stage," said Crystal in a later statement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "I am thrilled to be back there."

Academy president Tom Sherak added: "I'm thrilled to welcome Billy back to the Oscar stage. He's a comic legend and Oscar icon, and it feels good to have him back where he belongs."

Crystal, a 63-year-old commedian, last hosted the show in 2004. It follows a groundswell of sentiment for his return following a guest appearance on the 2011 Oscar show for which he received a standing ovation. Crystal said later he was moved by the warm reception and that "it might be fun" to host the show again.

"I think the show needs to change," he said in an interview with The Associated Press in March. "There's too many awards and it has to sort of freshen itself up, and if I can be a part of that, that would be great."

Comedian Eddie Murphy had been chosen to host the 2012 show, but pulled out Wednesday following the departure on Tuesday of producer and friend Brett Ratner, who left amid criticism of his use of a pejorative term for gay men at a screening of the director's action comedy "Tower Heist," which stars Murphy and Ben Stiller.

Ratner was replaced this week by veteran producer Brian Grazer, joining co-producer Don Mischer, who was named producer alongside Ratner in August.

Crystal previously hosted in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2004 - some of the most successful shows in Oscar history. The 2011 ceremony featured the duo of Anne Hathaway and James Franco in an effort to attract younger viewers, but with disappointing results. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin hosted the year before.

"Like so many others, I've been eager to see Billy host again," said Grazer. "It's very gratifying that he agreed to do it with Don and me at the helm."

Crystal hosted the highest-rated Oscar telecast in 1998 when "Titanic" sailed away with multiple trophies.

"With Billy, we're moving forward with one of the greatest hosts in Oscar history," said Mischer. "His return to the Oscars is, in a sense, a celebration."




AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this report.

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