Oscars bring back Billy Crystal

Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:23pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar organizers on Thursday brought back funnyman Billy Crystal to host the film awards after recent days of turmoil that led to the departure of one producer and his handpicked emcee Eddie Murphy.

Crystal, who has hosted the widely-watched Hollywood telecast eight times previously, announced his new job on Twitter with a post: "Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up prescriptions. Looking forward to the show."

Tom Sherak, president of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that puts on the Oscars, called Crystal "a comic legend and Oscar icon."

"I'm thrilled to welcome Billy back to the Oscar stage," Sherak said.

The announcement follows days of drama at the academy after producer Brett Ratner last week used the gay slur "fags" at a screening of his movie "Tower Heist," which stars Murphy.

His use of the word raised howls from gay rights groups and academy members. He apologized publicly on Monday, but his contrition failed to stem the firestorm. He resigned one day later. Murphy, who had been lured by Ratner to host the Oscar telecast, followed his boss out the door on Wednesday.

The academy responded by hiring "A Beautiful Mind" producer and Hollywood veteran Brian Grazer to replace Ratner, leaving the choice of a host to him.

"Like so many others, I've been eager to see Billy host again. It's very gratifying that he agreed to do it with (co-producer Don Mischer) and me at the helm."   Continued...

<p>Presenter Billy Crystal stands on stage during the 83rd Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>