At Saturday night’s Governors Awards, which honored Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones, and makeup artist Dick Smith, Academy president Tom Sherak told EW that the Oscars’ insanely chaotic week – which witnessed producer Bret Ratner and host Eddie Murphy stepping aside and Brian Grazer and Billy Crystal taking their places – had yielded a surprisingly smooth transition. “We are in pretty good shape, better shape than most people would think,” said Sherak. “I keep telling people that we are actually two weeks ahead of where we were with the hosts last year. Now Brian will bring a new creative energy to the table. Hopefully Bill will give us a show that you guys will talk about and write about and say, ‘How did they do that?’”
Sherak expressed regret about the turn of events that led to the shake-up, saying, “I felt badly for Brett. Very badly. I think he did the right thing by stepping down which he did but I think everything has been a process. I think it was good that it happened quickly. And good that it happened early. God forbid this happened in January when we were in the thick of planning and writing.”
As for Crystal’s return – or rescue – Sherak doesn’t believe the eight-time host or anyone else for that matter would have been a safe choice. “He is a great host, but when you go live on ABC at 5:30 for movie’s biggest night, safety is thrown out the door,” says Sherak. “Anything can happen and some people will love it and some will hate it. And the writers will drive you crazy because one year they call us irrelevant and say we need to tap into a younger crowd and then we get young hosts and book younger talent and then they say we are pandering to young people too much. You can’t win, so you do your best. And I trust Billy will give us a great show. He is a comic genius and when it comes to the Oscars, he is comfortable. He’s been there, done that, has the T-shirt.”
(Reporting by Carrie Bell.)
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