Which films will be chosen for this year's Academy Awards is anybody's guess, but at least one Oscar question has been answered: Steve Martin was chosen Monday to host the 73rd annual Academy Awards on March 25--the first time the comic actor, director and author has handled that duty.
The 55-year-old Martin is best known to film audiences for his roles in such films as "Parenthood" and "Roxanne." But he began his career as a stand-up comic, famous for his zany performances on television and stage.
When Billy Crystal opted not to host the show this year for an eighth time, producer Gil Cates and academy President Bob Rehme drew up a short list of names to replace him. Rehme said Martin was very high on the list--though he would not say who else was on it. Last week, Cates and Martin met for lunch, and the actor agreed to do the show. Rehme said Martin will bring his own brand of conceptual and cerebral humor to the show.
"Steve is a major movie star, a writer, a producer, a director, an author and a playwright," Rehme said Monday.
Martin, though, has never been nominated for an Oscar. "If you can't win 'em, join 'em," Martin said in a statement released by the academy.
Though Martin was catapulted into stardom by his comedic flair, he has lately opted to do more serious fare such as starring in David Mamet's 1998 "The Spanish Prisoner" and even writing a novel, "Shopgirl." Still, Martin's persona was shaped by his classic performances on "Saturday Night Live" in the late 1970s as a "wild and crazy guy" and as King Tut.
Rehme noted, however, that it's the films, not the show, that take center stage on Oscar night. "The key for the Oscars is recognizing the achievement of these artists. . . . Hopefully the show will be somewhat entertaining."