It was announced last evening — after the duo of Ben Stiller and Robert Downey, Jr. turned down the opportunity, and Hugh Jackman declined to come back — that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will be hosting the Oscars early next year.
Ummm. Awesome. Of all the Oscar telecasts in my lifetime, Steve Martin’s stint way back when was probably one of my favorites, as he brought a very L.A. Story type of monologue to the show, which was both cerebral and cutting enough that, as I seem to recall, much of the audience felt fairly uncomfortable (there was a little too much truth to the digs at Hollywood). The pairing with Baldwin, however, does seem rather odd. They are starring together in a Nancy Meyers movie this holiday season (It’s Complicated), which looks awfully similar in tone to another Nancy Meyers film, Something’s Gotta Give. Also, it looks kind of bad.
Nevermind that, though; when they’re not reading from terrible scripts, both are winsome and hilarious. They’re some of the best talk show guests around (Baldwin often mocks his evangelical brother), as a recent appearance from Martin on Letterman can attest:
If they’re smart, they may also snag Tina Fey and a few of the “30 Rock” writers to help script the show.
Still, it is an awards show, and though past hosts — Jon Stewart and, briefly, Hugh Jackman — have proven, it doesn’t matter how good a host you are, it will never drown out the insufferable smugness, the interminable thank-you speeches made even worse when they’re awkwardly cut off, the half-hour devoted to the lifetime achievement award, and the endless montages. If I were running the telecast, I’d make a bottle of Scotch the host, and make the entire evening an audience drinking contest, then we could all watch Meryl Streep stumble up the stairs and every award winner would make out with their presenter!