Originally created 01/17/04

Billy Crystal getting ready to host Academy Awards



LOS ANGELES -- Billy Crystal says he felt the itch again - and that's why he's back as host of the Oscars.

The Academy Awards will be shown Feb. 29 on ABC, and it will be Crystal's eighth time as host. He last hosted in 2000.

"Last year I felt the itch to do it," the 55-year-old comedian said Thursday. "The war had hit, I wanted to be in the limelight. I wanted to feel that extra pressure."

Steve Martin, last year's host, did an excellent job, Crystal said. But when he was approached by producer Joe Roth this year, he agreed. It's about three months work to prepare, compacted this year because the broadcast is a month earlier than usual.

"To say it's not nerve-racking is ridiculous," Crystal said. "Once I say, 'yes,' I have a headache until I say, 'Good night, everybody."'

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