Oscars 2012: Billy Crystal to host Academy Awards for the 9th time

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By Lina Das

Last updated at 10:40 AM on 24th February 2012

Billy Crystal will host the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday televised by ABC

Billy Crystal will host the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday televised by ABC

Funnyman Billy Crystal is back hosting the Oscars on Sunday - for the ninth time.

He last did it in 2004 and he jokes that he's doing it again, 'so the young woman in my local pharmacy will stop having to ask my name when I pick up my prescriptions'.

Falling worldwide TV audiences for the Academy Awards ceremony - down more than 40 per cent over the past 12 years - reflect viewers' boredom with what was once a great TV spectacle.

Last year's co-hosts - a manic Anne Hathaway and a relaxed James Franco - were almost universally panned. So call in Crystal, 63, the Oscars' answer to the Texan oil well firefighter, Red Adair.

As former compere, Steve Martin, famously remarked, 'Hosting the Oscars is like making love to a beautiful woman - it's something I only get to do when Billy Crystal's out of town.'

Crystal's trademark act is to insert himself into clips of nominated films and some memorable entrances - most notably being wheeled on stage as The Silence Of The Lambs' cannibal Hannibal Lecter in 1992.

He brought the house down by telling Anthony Hopkins, who won Best Actor for the role, 'I'm having some Academy people for dinner. Care to join me?'

And he teased Jack Nicholson about his flops: 'Sit back, relax and forget about Mars Attack.'

Scriptwriter Buz Kohan, who has worked with the When Harry Met Sally star on six previous Oscars shows, explains his success by saying, 'He is a genuinely funny man who can think on his feet in awkward situations.

'Once when he spotted 100-year-old producer Hal Roach in the audience, Billy introduced him but no one could hear Hal because he didn't have a mic. Quick as a flash, Billy said "Well, what do you expect? He started in the silent movies!"

'And the night Jack Palance - 73 at the time - did one-handed push-ups on stage, Billy kept up running gags for the rest of the show with lines including, 'Jack's just climbed Everest without breaking into a sweat', and, 'People magazine has named him Sexiest Man Alive'.

The Academy Awards is on Sky Movies Premiere HD and Living HD from 11.30pm.

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