Universal Pictures just got the biggest Christmas present ever. Well, maybe their biggest present if their new Nancy Meyers romantic comedy “It’s Complicated” was being released in March. Instead, the two men who battle for the heart of Meryl Streep in the holiday comedy will have to work off that cinematic chemistry as they host the 81st Annual Academy Awards on March 7. And in the meantime, Uni will just enjoy all the free publicity.
Let’s be honest though. Today’s announcement was not that surprising. Martin has hosted twice before, getting strong notices in 2001 and 2003 and has considered jumping back in the ring but clearly didn’t want to do it alone. He almost hosted last year’s show with Tina Fey, but the “30 Rock” star couldn’t get away long enough from New York to make it work. Instead, Martin will team up with another “Rock” star and become the first all-male duo since Donald O’Connor and Fredric March hosted in 1953. The pair also break a twenty year run of solo hosts that dates back to Billy Crystal’s inaugural show in 1989. How time flies.
Unlike last year’s show which relied more on sophistication and drama among who would present each award as the night went on, this year’s production should be a non-stop cavalcade on one liners which was obviously not Hugh Jackman’s strong suit. The popular “Wolverine” star did, however, bump the show’s younger male demo up for the first time in years. It will be curious to see if Martin and Baldwin can maintain the growth after last year’s noted departure from typical Oscar productions.
The duo are also very safe choice in a year where there is much uncertainty in how the ten nominee system will work out as well as whether mainstream hits will finally get recognized. The Academy obviously didn’t want to rock the boat too much, but don’t think they didn’t approach the Will Smith’s and the Robert Downey, Jr.’s of the world to host the show. Most importantly, a veteran like Martin also should make it easier on first time producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman who have never tackled anything in their careers like this before. In fact, it’s a dirty little secret that Shankman was offered the position out of the blue only a few days before it was announced. He may need all the help he can get! Martin’s experience and influence should be a huge help in making sure the whole show doesn’t go too over-the-top (let’s hope so).
The most to gain, of course, is Baldwin. If he rocks there is no reason he won’t get offered the position as a solo gig in the future and, moreover, he’ll provide a subtle reminder to the movie big wigs in the audience how charming and funny he can be (if “Complicated” doesn’t do so first).
The lowdown? Sure, steady, but most of all a big old “safe.” Nothing to worry about with this team on board. Still, how come this pundit is all of a sudden more excited about Ricky Gervais hosting the Golden Globes?
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