Yesterday I emailed a gang of my blogger cohorts who track the Oscars derby and asked: "Who agrees with me that Will Smith would make the bestest Oscars host? Let's start the drum beat! "
Among the people I cc'd in the email: David Carr (NYTimes.com), Scott Feinberg (AndTheWinnerIs), Lou Lumenick (NYPost.com), T.L. Stanley (HollywoodReporter.com), Sasha Stone (AwardsDaily.com), Kris Tapley (InContention.com), Anne Thompson (Variety.com), Jeff Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere.com). And YOU gentle reader can jump in and vote in our Envelope poll HERE.
SASHA STONE: Ricky Gervais. Will Smith might feel compelled to rap the opening number. He might even call Jada and the kids out to rap along. Ricky Gervais, Steve Carell, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert.
ANNE THOMPSON: "1.) Steve Martin, 2.) Billy Crystal, 3.) Jon Stewart. Gervais can't even open a movie. I have fantasies of Hugh Jackman doing a musical medley at the top of the show. With the new producers I hope the show will continue to be classy and insider smart. Smith might be fine but don't think his stardom necessarily changes the equation. The movies need to be popular, like 'Dark Knight.'" READ MORE
SCOTT FEINBERG: "I agree 100% that Smith would be great, but why on Earth would he do it? He's on top of the world right now, so why put himself out there? An Oscar host hasn't been able to generate good reviews from the majority of critics or good ratings from viewers in years. I'm afraid it's as thankless a job as being president these days! What do you think about the Gervais buzz, though? I think it would be worth the gamble for him, as someone who is a revered comedian in the UK but who is a much lesser-known quantity in the US, and I suspect he would be very good! "
LOU LUMENICK: "No, no, no to Will Smith; he's becoming the new Tom Cruise. If the new producers really want to think outside the box, I say Kal Penn and John Cho. The latter is a killer impressionist; he does the best Brando I've ever seen on the new Godfather box set."
DAVID CARR: "Colbert. Hands down. Genially savage appearance at WHCD should put everyone on notice that it won't be pretty, but will be pretty funny."
KRIS TAPLEY: "I've always thought Nathan Lane would be a great outside-the-box choice."
T.L. STANLEY: "Not that I don't love me some Fresh Prince, but he's broken my heart with all the Scientology shiznit, though people outside of NY/LA probably couldn't care less about that. I'm not convinced he'd be the right choice. Jon Stewart: played out, obviously. Carell? Good. Colbert? Better." READ MORE
TOM O'NEIL: "Will Smith will haul in the most eyeballs, which the Oscars desperately need. Ricky Gervais would be socko, but, as a draw, he's a zero. Jon Stewart? You're kidding, right? Maybe so he can co-host with David Letterman and Chris Rock? Do we believe that there's death in threes? Stewart's hosted twice so far, let's recall."
SASHA STONE: "Recall, are you kidding? There is only one way to save the Oscars. Nominate films people have seen and are invested in. "Titanic," "Gladiator," "Return of the King," "The Dark Knight." No one cares about the host. Well, unless they're reality TV show hosts and then it's like the Sarah Palin of hosts: you didn't know how bad it could be until you saw how bad it could be. Will Smith is still trying to rescue his film career. He wants to be Denzel Washington not Billy Crystal. Steve Carell."
JEFF WELLS answered in a post at his blog under the heading "No Offense," saying: "Do I agree with O'Neil's suggestion that Will Smith would be a great choice to host the Oscars? Uhhm...sorry but no. No offense, but to me Smith is Mr. Easy, Mr. Bucks-Up Hah-Hah. He doesn't exude anything except exuberance, perfect teeth and positivism. He lacks discrimination and is accommodating to a fault -- he'll throw his head back and laugh at anything, radiate positive energy about anything and everything except Saudi terrorists, smile until he dies from old age. He's the 21st Century Sammy Davis, Jr. All he wants to do is entertain and be loved. zzzzzzzz."
Now it's your turn. Take a look at The Envelope's Oscar host candidates and VOTE!