Dennis Miller became a household name in 1985 thanks entirely to his role as anchor on SNL’s popular “Weekend Update” segment. His acerbic sarcasm and breathless diatribes were the topics of Monday morning water cooler conversations for 5 or 6 years. After leaving SNL he went on to have a pretty good run on HBO doing an “alternative” talk show called Dennis Miller Live from 1994 to 2002. Some time in there, between 1985 and 2002, Miller would have been perfect hostin the Academy Awards. His comedy was witty and topical, and he could clean up pretty well. Unfortunately, ever since 9/11, the guy is just no fun—not because he got all conservative, but because he went from sarcastically annoyed to downright angry. These days he pals around with stick-in-the-mud Bill O’Reilly, and has gone from HBO to Fox News to, currently, syndicated radio. Yikes. Even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has enough sense not to invite this guy host the Oscars.
Whitney Houston had everything going for her in the early 1990s. She could sing, she could act, and she was gorgeous. Most importantly, perhaps, she was a diva without the attitude—which is just another way of saying, she was actually likeable. She really would have been a perfect Oscars host if the Academy were looking to go with something “outside the box”. Then for some reason Houston went crazy and married Bobby Brown. Or maybe she married Bobby Brown and went crazy. Either way, it wasn’t pretty. Today poor Whitney seems to have her act together again and is attempting to make a comeback, but it’s pretty clear she doesn’t quite “have it” anymore. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Academy Awards producer Brett Ratner selects her to perform the traditional medley of Oscar songs.
Like Chevy Chase, Robin Williams actually has hosted the Oscars in the past. Well, he co-hosted, anyway, sharing the spotlight with Alan Alda and Jane Fonda in 1986. Alda, of course, was just three years removed from his role on M.A.S.H., one of the most beloved TV shows of all time. Jane Fonda, meanwhile, had transitioned from serious acting to making aerobics tapes for VHS players. As for Robin Williams, well—and I know this will be hard for our younger readers to believe, but it’s true—his brand of off-the-wall hyperactive standup comedy was really quite popular in the mid-80s. Everything he did was wild and fresh and, therefore, funny. Today? Yeah, we’re pretty sick of it. (Do you know anybody who saw License to Wed? Did you completely forget you had ever heard of that film?)
Of course, the Juilliard-trained performer has carved out a nice career as a serious actor, even winning an Oscar for Good Will Hunting. But nobody wants to see him given carte blanche to go nuts for 4-plus hours at the Oscars. So I’d says the odds are 3-1 he hosts sometime in the next three years.