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How Do You Spell Relief, Oscars? B-I-L-L-Y

The eight-time host offers Oscar-night comfort food for those who couldn’t stomach Brett Ratner

Of course it’s Billy Crystal.

Oscar producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer may have had a handful of reasons to go for somebody younger or fresher – some of them are the same reasons why the motion picture academy hired Brett Ratner in the first place – but those reasons stopped being very important as this week's events unfolded.

Billy CrystalAnd when Grazer took over the reins from the exiting Ratner on Wednesday afternoon, he really just had one big priority:

Get Billy.

I didn't think they needed to move so fast, but the immediate booking of Crystal sends the message that the Oscars needed to send: That Ratner mess is behind us, and we're in good hands.

And clearly, the opportunity to be the Oscars' savior is huge for Crystal, who has only hosted the show once in the last 11 years, and not at all since 2004.

The guy always got a standing ovation when he walked onstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion or the Shrine Auditorium, but can you imagine what the applause is going to be like this year at the Kodak?

Also read: He's Back! Billy Crystal Will Host the Oscars 2012

If the immediate reaction among Academy members I spoke to was more of a sign of relief than the buzz of excitement, that's okay: After the chaotic events of this week, being able to breathe that sigh of relief is huge for everybody within AMPAS.

Crystal's return to the gig he more-or-less patented in his eight previous times onstage will no doubt change the show that Mischer was beginning to lay out with Ratner.

Also read: Tom Sherak Grilled on Ratner, Oscar Hosts: 'Billy Crystal Is Not Too Old!'

Maybe they won't be shaking up the Academy Awards so much after all. Maybe this will be a year for some Oscar-night tradition to go along with new efforts in promotion and marketing – innovation offstage, not on.

Meanwhile, a good number of those writers that Ratner announced as being the team that'll pen material for Eddie Murphy will no doubt be leaving along with Murphy.

Also read: Billy Crystal's Best Oscar Lines

And even though Bruce Vilanch was conspicuously absent from Ratner's list or Oscar scribes, something tells me he'll need to find a new t-shirt to go with his tux Feb. 26.

Also, the motion picture academy might want to forget about any of those pipe dreams they had of a show lasting only three hours, or 3:15. Of all the recent Oscar hosts, Crystal devours (and, you could say, deserves) the most airtime: his multi-part entrance, which typically consisted of a film and then a dramatic entrance and then a monologue and then a song, often pushes the first award of the night past the 20-minute mark.

Still, I imagine that Billy's Oscar-night comfort food will go down easy for those who couldn't stomach Ratner. So keep an eye out for those Crystal mainstays: the film clip, the parody song medley (clear your schedule and start figuring out what rhymes with descendants, Marc Shaiman), maybe that mid-show break where he tells you what the stars are thinking.

But right now, you don't need a Vilanch-scripted gag to tell you what the Academy's thinking:


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