Pat H. Broeske and Bill Higgins
February 04, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

The announcement came last week, but four-time host Billy Crystal says he decided in November that he wouldn’t reprise his role as emcee of the Academy Awards. Problem was, Oscar producer Gilbert Cates didn’t take the comedian seriously. ”Billy has turned me down around that time of year for the past three years,” says Cates, who’s now scrambling to find a new master of ceremonies. Cates, who hopes Crystal will return in 1995, denies reports that former host Johnny Carson was approached but declined an offer. Another potential candidate is reportedly Tom Hanks, who has been Crystal’s backup in the past. But at the recent Golden Globe Awards, Hanks said, ”I don’t need that kind of pressure in my life.” In a poll conducted by ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, Americans chose Robin Williams to host the Oscars from a list of celebrities. But that’s unlikely; the comedian, says a spokesman, ”knows it’s too difficult a task for any one performer. Billy is Robin’s best friend, and he knows how tough it would be to follow him.”

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