Martin, Baldwin to "ratchet up the funny" at Oscars

LOS ANGELES Wed Nov 4, 2009 4:04pm EST

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin in a combination image. Martin and Baldwin have been picked to co-host the upcoming 82nd Academy Awards, Oscar organizers said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Files

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin in a combination image. Martin and Baldwin have been picked to co-host the upcoming 82nd Academy Awards, Oscar organizers said on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Files

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were chosen as co-hosts of next year's Oscars to inject a fresh comedic twist into the ceremony while building on decades of tradition, new co-producer Adam Shankman said.

Actors Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr and comedian Tina Fey were among names "thrown around" as possible hosts, Shankman told Entertainment Weekly magazine in an interview published on Wednesday, one day after the choice of Martin and Baldwin was revealed.

But the choreographer and "Hairspray" director said there were scheduling conflicts and that Martin and Baldwin were picked to "ratchet up the funny" at the March 7 awards of the movie industry's highest honors.

Martin, has hosted the Oscar telecast twice before, but 2010 will be a first for Baldwin, the Emmy-award winning star of the satirical TV series "30 Rock".

"I think by doing this we are signaling to the (movie) community that the Academy hasn't lost their mind but the show will still be fresh and young, because Alex has such a young following," Shankman told Entertainment Weekly.

He said the choice was also a bid to dismiss speculation that his own background meant there would be more song and dance in the 2010 ceremony following Broadway star Hugh Jackman's success as host and higher TV audiences for the February 2009 telecast.

"I don't want musical numbers unless there is an organic fit into the show," Shankman said. "I want the show to feel that we are continuing to build on the Oscars, and I'm not trying to make the MTV Movie Awards."

Tuesday's announcement of Martin and Baldwin as co-hosts was generally well-received by Oscar watchers. The annual telecast is among the most-watched U.S. television shows but viewership has declined in recent years.

"A veteran like Martin should make it easier on first time producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman," wrote blogger Greg Ellwood on HitFix.com.

Fred Martin, in a post on Reuters.com, said Martin and Baldwin brought different talents but would likely do well.

"Martin fans, like me, will welcome any opportunity to see him in action, and Baldwin will bring in a completely different set of fans," Martin wrote.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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