Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin to co-host Oscars

LOS ANGELES (AP) - November 4, 2009

The two Hollywood veterans will share hosting duties at the 82nd Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Tuesday.

Telecast producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman said Martin and Baldwin are "the perfect pair of hosts for the Oscars." The producers have said they hope to resurrect Oscar's ratings and make the show more fun by building on the changes introduced at February's ceremony, which tinkered with the way awards were presented and featured Broadway-style musical interludes.

Bringing in a pair of hosts, while not unprecedented, continues that theme of change.

"Very early on, we talked about a pairing as part of our concept of the show, having tradition and also freshness walking hand in hand," Shankman said in an interview Tuesday. "Steve anchors it in so much tradition and Alec ... besides being a former Oscar nominee, he is just hot, hot, hot right now. And the two of them I know adore each other."

A pair of hosts helmed the inaugural Oscar ceremony in 1929: Douglas Fairbanks and William DeMille, then president and vice president of the film academy, co-hosted the show. The last time multiple hosts graced the Oscar stage was in 1987, when Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul Hogan shared hosting duties.

"In the modern television era, this is the first time there will be two co-hosts on the same stage," academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger said Tuesday.

Hugh Jackman sang and danced as host of last year's Academy Awards, which saw a ratings boost from the previous year. The 41-year-old actor declined to reprise his hosting role before Mechanic and Shankman were named as producers.

Splitting hosting duties between two funny fellows ups the show's fun factor, Mechanic said - "taking a little starch out of the shirts, so to speak."

"We can move things along more easily by taking out some of the stilted banter that goes on between presenters and let the hosts guide us through the evening," he said Tuesday.

Martin has hosted the show twice before, in 2001 and 2003, and has appeared as a presenter several times. Baldwin is a first-timer as Oscar host, but was a co-presenter in 2004.

Baldwin, 51, who stars on NBC's "30 Rock," called the Oscar gig "the opportunity of a lifetime." He was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003 for his supporting role in "The Cooler."

Martin said that he is "happy to co-host the Oscars with my enemy Alec Baldwin." The 64-year-old entertainer is currently on tour in support of his latest banjo album. He and Baldwin share the screen in Nancy Meyers' film "It's Complicated," due in theaters next month.

Besides the dual-host approach, the 2010 Oscars have already undergone a major makeover. The academy moved its honorary Oscars, often a long-winded affair that bogged down the ceremony, to a separate event in November.

And in the biggest change in decades, the academy doubled the number of best-picture nominees from five to 10. Academy overseers hope that might open the top category to a wider range of films, including commercial movies that could attract more TV viewers.

Telecast plans are shaping up well, said Mechanic, who made three promises about the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony on March 7, 2010: "It will be more fun this year, it will be faster this year and it will be the best of the best."

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