Steve Martin Named Oscar Host

Are the Oscars going standup?

Looks that way now that yet another star comic has been tapped to host the 73rd Academy Awards.

Wild and crazy guy Steve Martin will host ABC’s live telecast from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on March 21, following past hosts and fellow comics Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg up to the podium.

“He’s everything!” says the show’s producer, Gil Cates, who made the surprise announcement today. “He’s a movie star, he’s funny, he’s classy, he’s literate — he’ll be a wonderful host.”

Academy President Bob Rehme is also confident that Martin is the right exception to the rule this year.

Steve Martin has been on our list of host choices every year, and we’re delighted that we were able to persuade him to do it,” Rehme told “He’s wonderful, a big movie star, very funny and a big supporter of the show.”

No word on what viewers can look forward to, however.

“We’re working on the show now, and there are always surprises. But no, I’m not telling what we’re going to do!” Rehme said.

Either Crystal or Goldberg has hosted the show every year since 1990, with the only exception in 1995 when late-night talk show host David Letterman took over. Crystal was asked back again this year but declined, saying his schedule won’t allow him to devote the several months it takes to get the show together.

By the time the Oscars rolls around, he plans to be wrapping his next film, the romantic comedy “America’s Sweethearts” with Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and doing publicity for “61*,” a baseball movie he wrote and directed for HBO.

Although Martin’s work in movies such as “The Jerk,” “Father of the Bride,” “Roxanne” and “Bowfinger” hasn’t earned him any Oscar nominations, the 55-year-old actor has still made it onto the telecast eight times over the years. He presented awards on six shows, introduced a Best Picture clip in 1997 and appeared in a gag film sequence for the show in 1995.

“If you can’t win ‘em, join em,” he joked in a press release.

Martin’s next big-screen appearance will be opposite Helena Bonham Carter and Laura Dern in the black comedy “Novocaine,” which wrapped last spring and is scheduled for release in 2001. He’s also taken on the real-life role of bestselling author — his first novella, “Shopgirl,” holds a spot on both The New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists.