Wanted: An Oscar Host

You loved his cameo-filled opening sequence, the side gags, his effervescent personality and, most of all, the way he made the usually tedious Oscar telecast fun and fast.

So who isn’t going to miss Billy Crystal just a little bit at this year’s Academy Awards?

“I like Billy Crystal. I know [he won’t be hosting], but I’d like to talk to him about that because he is my favorite. I think he is the best,” Jennifer Love Hewitt told Hollywood.com at the Fire and Ice Ball for cancer research on Tuesday night.

Crystal said earlier this month that he absolutely, definitely and positively would not return to emcee the Academy Awards this year due to scheduling conflicts.

And if that’s not enough, previous host Whoopi Goldberg has given her “no, thank you” to the hosting job.

So what is the Academy to do for a suitable replacement?

We asked around for some suggestions.

“I thought Garry Shandling did a great job at the Emmys. I loved him. I thought he was brilliant. That’ll be my vote — Garry Shandling for the Oscars 2001,” “Will & Grace” star Eric McCormack said.

Hmmm, not a bad choice, except for the fact that Shandling did host the Emmys this year, and the Academy probably wouldn’t want to share a host with another high-profile awards show.

Christopher Guest, how about that?” “The Contender” co-star Christian Slater told us.

Another good — and interesting — choice. But oh, in case the name Christopher Guest doesn’t immediately ring a bell, he is the comedian and mastermind behind such spoof classics as “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Waiting for Guffman” and this year’s “Best in Show.”

As for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it has just chosen Gilbert Cates as the producer for this year’s awards telecast.

And if previous Oscar timetables are any indication, news of the Oscar emcee should be announced any day now.

“The producer decides who’s going to go on to do the show. And then we can either go along with that choice or not,” John Pavlik, Academy communications director, told Hollywood.com.

“There’s a ton of people that would be great for the job. It’s a hard gig to get someone to do. It’s a lot of work for one night, and it’s a long way from now.”

And who would know that better than Crystal, who has done the gig for seven years. The erstwhile host had said that it takes at least two months alone to work out the intricacies of his signature Oscar opening, not counting other responsibilities.

With Crystal and Goldberg out of the picture and potential scheduling conflicts with other hopefuls on the horizon, finding the right person with enough star power, time and the willingness to commit might be a much tougher task than it seems.

For all it’s worth, Crystal has nominated Jim Carrey, Jay Leno and David Letterman as his successor. But given the awards’ history with the “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” star (word is that Carrey is sore about being snubbed twice — for “The Truman Show” and “Man on the Moon” — by the Academy) and the CBS “Late Show” host (Letterman hosted the event before but bombed), it is unlikely that Crystal‘s recommendation would be heeded.

“At some point, Gil will talk somebody into doing it. I supposed he’ll do that in the next couple of weeks,” Pavlik said.

“Knowing Gil, he has someone in mind [as the host] before he commits to doing it,” Pavlik said. “He has talked about who he wants [to be the host] with people here, but I’m afraid I can’t say anymore until the time comes closer.”

So there’s still enough time to send in your headshot.