To help celebrate his 75th b-day, Oscar is calling in one wild and crazy guy.

Steve Martin has been tapped to emcee the 2003 Academy Awards, organizers announced Thursday.

This marks the second Oscar-hosting gig for Martin, who did a tour of duty at the 2001 ceremony that was applauded by critics, but wound up the lowest-rated Academy Awards ever.

"I'm very pleased to be hosting the Oscars again, because fear and nausea always make me lose weight," Martin says in an academy-sanctioned statement.

Martin takes over for Whoopi Goldberg.

Per policy, an academy spokersperson would not confirm if four-time Goldberg or perennial fave Billy Crystal had been invited back. (For those keeping score at home, Bob Hope leads with 18 emcee appearances, followed by Crystal, with seven, and Johnny Carson, with five.)

The 75th annual Academy Awards will be produced by Gil Cates, who obviously needs some better writers, as witnessed by his contribution to the Martin press release:

"The 75th Anniversary show is a meaningful one for the Academy, and it is wonderful to work with a host who's done it before," Cates said. "A host who's witty, clever, sharp, intelligent, quick on his feet and always on top of the unfolding action. Wait, I've forgotten something. Oh yeah, and outrageously funny." (Where's Bruce Vilanch when you need him?)

Aside from his previous emcee chores, Martin, a no-time Oscar nominee, has popped up at the Academy Awards eight other times. He handed out statuettes on six occasions, introduced a Best Picture clip in '97 and made a cameo in a gag sequence for the '95 show.

Martin's film credits include Father of the Bride, Roxanne, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and All of Me. He just completed Disney's Bringing Down the House, a comedy costarring Queen Latifah and Eugene Levy due out in the spring.

The 57-year-old erstwhile Jerk's found success on stage and in the literary world, as well. He's adapted his latest best-selling novella, Shopgirl, into a screenplay, with filming slated to begin in June; he'll star with Claire Danes and Jimmy Fallon. His next novel, The Pleasure of My Company, will be published next fall.

Nominations for the 2003 Oscars will be announced in the wee hours of February 11, with the show airing March 23 live on ABC from Hollywood's Kodak Theater.

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