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Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin to share Oscar hosting gig

NBC has won the latest round of trophy-show one-upmanship it had been waging against ABC, when the motion picture academy announced late Tuesday that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin would co-host the 82nd Academy Awards.

No, NBC is not broadcasting the Academy Awards -- ABC is, on March 7. NBC airs the Globes, on Jan 17.

And yes, the Baldwin/Martin-hosted Oscars on ABC will probably, like other years, clock nearly twice as many viewers as the Golden Globes (though the Globes broadcast is no slouch with its 20million-ish viewers, often beating the Primetime Emmy Awards and usually rivaling the viewership of the Grammy Awards).

But in addition to co-hosting the Oscars, Martin and Baldwin are co-starring in an upcoming movie called "It's Complicated" that's coming out Christmas Day, so the Oscar show will be one big, fat wet kiss to that new movie -- and that kiss will be seen by 35 million to 40 million viewers.

"It's Complicated" is distributed by -- NBC Universal.

NBC wins.

It's unusual, but not unprecedented, for the Academy Awards to have more than one person playing host in a given year. Ironically, the news about Martin and Baldwin co-hosting was announced by this year's Oscar co-producers, Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman, who noted that Martin will bring the experience of having hosted the show before -- the 73rd and 75th -- while Baldwin will be "a completely fresh personality for this event."

More in the "plus" column for NBC: Both men are well-known as the two most frequent hosts of its late-night franchise "Saturday Night Live." And though Baldwin is a perennial Emmy winner for playing evil NBC suit Jack Donaghy on NBC's critically heralded "30 Rock," those wins have been seen by a relatively puny audience compared with the one he will command on Oscar night. Which maybe, just maybe, might bring a few more viewers to the ratings-starved comedy

"I don't play the banjo but I'm thrilled to be hosting the Oscars -- it's the opportunity of a lifetime," Baldwin said in a canned quote that went with Tuesday's announcement, while banjo-playing Martin chimed in with: "I am happy to co-host the Oscars with my enemy Alec Baldwin."

Baldwin is practically a fresh face for the Oscars, having been last nominated in 2003 for his supporting role in "The Cooler." That's also the last time he showed up at the trophy show as a presenter. Martin's a veteran, including those two solo flights as host.

Just last week, NBC scored a coup in the trophy-show war when it announced that Ricky Gervais, who has provided various trophy shows with their most amusing moments, would host its broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards on Jan.17.

That news came six days after the Motion Picture Academy announced it had signed Shankman -- who is one of the judges of Fox's reality series "So You Think You Can Dance" and an accomplished choreographer -- to co-produce the Academy Awards with Mechanic. Shankman is perhaps best known for directing "Hairspray," and he actually performed in an Oscar ceremony, once upon a time, as a dancer.

When Shankman was named to co-produce, he promised this year's Academy Awards would "celebrate the world's collective love of movies and provide a fun escape from the difficult times we're living in."

The news about Shankman in October had triggered a tsunami of "the Oscar show will have a super-major song-and-dance element this year" blogging among The Reporters Who Cover Television.

And, way back in June, the motion picture academy boosted the number of Best Picture nominees at the next Oscarcast from five to 10 in hopes it would attract even more viewers to the trophy show.

The hope is that fans of 10 flicks -- not just five -- will tune in to see whether their favorite film of the year cops The Big One.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  November 3, 2009; 10:54 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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