The actor-director-writer and erstwhile Jerk was named host of the 73rd annual Academy Awards Monday, ending much speculation about who would take over for Billy Crystal.
Gil Cates, producer of the Oscar telecast, made the surprise announcement, saying Martin's many talents make him a perfect fit for the high-profile gig. "He's everything!" Cates said in a statement. "He's a movie star, he's funny, he's classy, he's literate--he'll be a wonderful host."
Martin, who has never been nominated for an Oscar, saw it another way.
"If you can't win 'em, join 'em," he said.
The 55-year-old Wild and Crazy Guy has appeared on the Oscar telecast eight times, but never as host. In 1997, he introduced one of the clips for Best Picture, and he also showed up in a gag sequence during the 1995 telecast.
The decision puts to rest the building speculation about who would fill the shoes of Crystal, who's hosted the show seven times over the last 10 years, but bowed out this year because of commitments to upcoming film projects, including the romantic comedy America's Sweethearts and 61*, a baseball movie he wrote and directed for HBO.
Crystal--a consistent favorite among Oscar viewers for his ability to add lighthearted humor and movie parodies to the gut-wrenchingly long ceremony--had even suggested a few of his own picks for host, including Jim Carrey, Jay Leno or, yes, David Letterman.
Instead, it turns out Crystal's shoes will be filled with happy feet. Martin's film credits include Father of the Bride, Roxanne and The Jerk, and he's found success on stage and in the literary world, as well. His latest novella, Shopgirl, is on The New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists, and is in its seventh printing.
Martin also recently completed filming the black comedy Novocaine with Helena Bonham Carter and Laura Dern. The film is due in 2001.
The Oscars will be handed out March 25 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and will be televised live on ABC.