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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Martin tries at dull Oscars
Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat
Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat add class to the proceedings
The BBC's John Hand reviews Steve Martin's first Oscars show.

You're quite right, Steve. As you said in the best quip of Oscars night, hosting the Oscars really is like making love to a beautiful woman.

Even if you do your best to keep things fresh and exciting for three hours, you're still painfully aware that you'll be dumped as soon as a better man comes along.

Billy Crystal is established as Oscar's host of choice having done already done the job seven times.


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

Steve Martin
When the likes of David Letterman have taken on the role in recent years, they've inevitably been on to a loser. No one seems able to do the job as well as Crystal.

So when Crystal was ruled out of this year's annual awards shebang because of filming commitments, the Oscar organisers needed a big talent to take on the role.

And Steve Martin - who could claim valuable experience as a stand-up comic and TV writer as well as film stardom - seemed to be just the man for the job.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin: Did a creditable job
As it turned out, Oscars 2001 ended up being one of the most tedious, boring Academy Awards ceremonies in recent history.

But Martin's performance was one of the highlights of an evening otherwise lacking in entertainment.

Martin didn't generate the belly laughs of Crystal's visual stunts, including his traditional spoofing of the year's top films.

Instead he relied on his one-liners and his verbal sparring with some of Hollywood's biggest names.

His jokes only fell flat once - when he attempted a gag about Russell Crowe "hitting on" his female co-stars, which drew a gasp and an uncomfortable silence from the crowd.


I was going to wear my swan but I decided they're so last year

Steve Martin on Bjork's outfit
But that probably had more to do with what appeared to be a sense-of-humour bypass by the Gladiator actor, who seemed determined to remain looking miserable all evening, even failing to crack a smile when he collected an Oscar himself.

Apart from that, Martin did consistently hit the funny bone of the star-studded audience and the watching millions.

It's just a shame the rest of the show was so interminably dull. There was nothing that will go down in Oscar history - no Titanic or American Beauty sweeping the board, no over-emotional speeches from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow.


Be sure to stay to the end of the show because at the end of the night we're going to vote someone out of showbiz

Steve Martin
There were no memorable quotes in the league of "I feel I'm walking on magic legs tonight" and a lack of endearingly insane reactions in the vein of Cuba Gooding Jr or Robert Benigni.

Balance this against a high number of cringeworthy moments - notably Hilary Swank using her platform as guest presenter to continue her thank-you list from last year - and Martin did a creditable job if he kept anyone awake right until the end.

  • Steve Martin's Top 10 lines:

  • "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."

  • (Standing in front of a giant Oscar statue) "We live in a great country. If this statue was in Afghanistan, it would have been destroyed right now."

  • "Eight hundred million people around the world are watching us and they're thinking the same thing: We're all gay."

  • Be sure to stay to the end of the show because at the end of the night we're going to vote someone out of showbiz."

  • "Please hold your applause until it's for me."

  • "If Tom (Hanks) wins tonight, it means that between us we will have three best actor awards."

  • (Picking Julia Roberts out in the crowd) "Julia, I miss our phone calls. But it seems that since you got caller ID, you're never at home."

  • (Discussing violence in movies) "I took a nine-year-old kid to see Gladiator and he cried through the entire film. But maybe it's because he didn't know who I was."

  • (Claiming that the FBI had a suspect for the Russell Crowe kidnap threats) "And Tom Hanks, you should be ashamed of yourself."

  • (After seeing Bjork's distinctive outfit) "I was going to wear my swan but I decided they're so last year."


OSCARS FORUM

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In the spotlight

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