Billy Crystal, who has served as host of the Academy Awards nine times during his career, said in a new interview that he felt this year's Oscars broadcast wasn't entertaining.
"I wasn’t even in the mood to celebrate anything, because people are sick," Crystal said. "People are critically ill. People are hungry. People are broke. Do we really need to see millionaires give each other gold statues?"
In a departure from tradition, there was no Oscars host, clips from the nominated movies weren't shown, and the Best Song nominees did not perform.
The show's producers were also on the receiving end of backlash for a "bizarre" In Memoriam segment that many viewers felt was too upbeat and rushed, especially given the many deaths around the world due to COVID-19.
The show also fizzled out in its last moments after producers decided to end the broadcast with the Best Actor category, rather than the traditional Best Picture award, with the expectation that it would go to the late Chadwick Boseman and result in an emotional finale. But instead, Anthony Hopkins was the surprise winner and was not at the ceremony to accept the Oscar, leaving presenter Joaquin Phoenix to awkwardly accept the trophy on his behalf and abruptly end the show.
The ratings for the show were at an all-time low with just 10 million people tuning in.
Steven Soderbergh, who served as Oscars producer this year, told the Los Angeles Times last week that he believed the pandemic was "an opportunity to try some really different stuff."
"The understanding was always, there are going to be some things that work and some things that don’t, things that people like, things that people don’t," he said.
Crystal, who has won Emmys for his hosting of the Oscars, said he watched this year's show, but he didn't think it was very entertaining.
"Given these difficult times, I was hoping the show would’ve been more entertaining. And that’s what I miss," he said.
"They tried something interesting, but interesting has to be entertaining. And I think that was missing," Crystal said.
In his interview with the Washington Post, during which he promoted his upcoming movie Here Today, Crystal acknowledged the job of an Oscars host isn't an easy one.
"I’m really proud of the nine times I hosted because what we tried to do on the show was be entertaining and celebrate the movies and make it a pleasing experience for the audience and keep it going," he said. "An hour into it, four out of every five people have lost, so you have a room of unhappy people."