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Memo to Billy Crystal: YOU ARE ONE MERCENARY MOTHERFUCKER.
You want an Oscar prediction? I'll give you an Oscar prediction. The Oscars are going to suck this year, and nobody will admit it. And you can take that prediction to Spago's afterwards.
The Academy Awards had a rough couple of weeks in November, which is odd, because it usually has a rough couple of weeks in March. Brett Ratner was going to produce the Oscars, but Brett Ratner is a shithead. Now, Brett Ratner has always been a shithead, but that didn't stop them from giving him the job in the first place, because if you limited the Academy Awards to non-shitheads, the show would finally be a watchable length.
The problem with hiring shitheads for your high-profile gig is that they do not actually stop being shitheads. So when Ratner, promoting his and Ben Stiller's ode to mediocrity, Tower Heist, said "rehearsal is for fags", that was a shithead move. So was lying about having sex with Olivia Munn with some lovely racial politics mixed in, but let's not fool ourselves, it was saying "fags" that got his ass fired.
And you know what? I'm fine with that, because Brett Ratner's not going to starve or even lose his career over dropping the Neutron F-Bomb. Ratner has freedom of speech, and the Oscars have freedom to fire shitheads. Everybody's free! Including Eddie Murphy.
Eddie Murphy apparently felt some sort of loyalty to Brett Ratner, because Murphy was in Tower Heist, and he didn't have to voice a donkey, wear a fat suit, or be in whatever the fuck Norbit was. And that's fair. I mean, it's sad, if a Brett Ratner movie is your return to form, but it's fair. And Eddie Murphy was going to host Brett Ratner's Oscars, and once they weren't Brett Ratner's Oscars anymore, they weren't Eddie Murphy's Oscars either.
Enter Billy Crystal.
Now, Crystal's recent career is nothing to write home about. He's doing better than Murphy, but that's because the CGI critters he's voicing are Pixar critters, not Dreamworks critters. Other than that, though, he's spent the last eight years waiting for the right time to come back to the Oscars.
You hear it every year. "They should have brought Billy Crystal back." Every time the Oscars show sucks, that's the refrain. Crystal's reign in the 90s is fondly remembered for two basic reasons - first, there is comfort in familiarity, and second, Crystal was the first guy to successfully bring the brand of safe, self-aware in-joke meta-mockery that has been the staple of every single awards show for the past two decades.
So what better time for him to return? The ceremony was on the ropes from a PR standpoint. I don't know who approached who, but I'm sure they both had the idea at the same exact time. Now is the time to give the people what they think they want. Crystal can ride in as the returning hero, he can get away with three hours of nothing but callbacks to fondly-remembered Oscar bits. I'm sure they're writing song-and-dance stanzas for every potential nominee even as we speak. And nobody will dare say shit.
I should start a betting pool for how many hits "Oscars" AND "return to form" will appear on Google News between the telecast and the next weekend. My prediction is over 800. I'm sure Tom Shales and his ilk are writing their reviews for next year's ceremony even as we speak. Including their noting of Crystal's "daring" nod to the controversy by making a joke about "rehearsal" in the first 15 minutes.
You want another Oscar prediction? Billy Crystal's not gonna host in 2013. Always leave them wanting more, as they say, and bailing out after a year will just generate demand for his return without generating demand for new material.