Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin To Host Oscars

The Oscars keep multiplying.

After the Academy increased its best
picture category to 10 films and tapped a pair of producers, it
announced that there will be two hosts for the 82nd annual Academy
Awards -- Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin -- the first time the show has
had multiple hosts since the 1987 ceremonies.

Almost immediately
after Tuesday's announcement, insiders began speculating that Tina Fey
-- who presented with Martin at the most recent Oscarcast and co-stars
with Baldwin on "30 Rock" -- will join the team as one of its key
writers. The show will air live March 7 on ABC.

Martin and Baldwin are familiar to both TV and film audiences, and both have been a presence at past Oscars.

hosted the show in 2001 and 2003. Baldwin has been a presenter, and
proved a lively performer on "Saturday Night Live," hosting that show
more than anyone else during its run. He was considered to be on
Shankman and Mechanic's shortlist after winning raves for hosting
Elle's Women in Hollywood event just weeks ago (Daily Variety, Oct. 21).

Baldwin also was nominated for an Oscar in 2003 for his supporting role in "The Cooler."

and Martin also co-star in Nancy Meyers' comedy "It's Complicated,"
which Universal will distrib on Christmas Day. The rollout of that pic
should help put a spotlight on Oscar's new hosts, similar to the
cross-promotion last year when Fox's "Australia" fed into the PR
machine for host Hugh Jackman.

Martin is currently touring with
the bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers in support of his latest album,
"The Crow: New Songs for the Five String Banjo."

"I don't play the banjo but I'm thrilled to be hosting the Oscars -- it's the opportunity of a lifetime," Baldwin said.

The comedic duo replace last year's host Jackman, who helped the show enjoy a rare ratings boost.

decision to find a replacement for the hosting gig fell in the hands of
Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic, who took over producing duties of the
show this year from Bill Condon and Laurence Mark.

"We think the
team of Steve and Alec are the perfect pair of hosts for the Oscars,"
said Shankman, who directed Martin in the comedy "Bringing Down the
House," and Mechanic in a statement. "Steve will bring the experience
of having hosted the show in the past and Alec will be a completely
fresh personality for this event."

When Martin took the stage for
the 73rd installment of the show, he quipped, "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."

He generally got thumbs-up
from critics, but not necessarily TV audiences. The show in 2001,
during which "Gladiator" won the top prize, lost millions of viewers
for the first time in four years. Even more of its audience fled in
2005, making the show the least watched and lowest rated telecast since
auds were measured in 1974, until the 80th ceremony established a new
low point in 2008.

Oscar had a string of multiple hosts in the
1970s and '80s, with sometimes four or five people sharing the chores.
The 1987 telecast was fronted by Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul

Marc Graser writes for B&C's sister publication Daily Variety.