Billy Crystal will host the 2012 Academy Awards following the shock departure of actor Eddie Murphy, with the 63-year-old comedian confirming the news on his Twitter page on Thursday (10th November 2011).
The comedy veteran has previously helmed the Oscars nine times, most recently in 2004, and is generally considered as being one of the finest hosts in Academy Awards history. Following numerous online polls, Crystal was the public's choice to replace Murphy, who stepped down after his creative partner Brett Ratner was forced to resign as producer following a series of ill-advised remarks during a question and answer session for his new movie Tower Heist. Although British comedian Ricky Gervais and Hollywood funny-man Chris Rock were also thought to be in contention for the job, Crystal was the runaway favorite and the comedian used his wry brand of humor when announcing the news last night, telling Twitter followers, "doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show". Academy president Tom Sherak called the actor, "a comic legend and Oscar icon", adding, "It feels good to have him back where he belongs". Next year's ceremony is likely to feature a group of Hollywood heavyweights vying for the top awards, following several years of low-budget domination with the likes of The Hurt Locker and Slumdog Millionaire triumphing over blockbusters like Avatar and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Steven Spielberg's World War I epic 'War Horse' is the current favorite to take Best Picture, while George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Leonardo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt are tipped to receive nominations for Best Actor.
The decision to hire Crystal looks to be a safe but popular choice, given last year's hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco were generally criticized for a performance that lacked any real bite.