Oscar Hopeful?

Could David Letterman be the answer to Oscar producer Gil Cates’ annual ordeal of finding the perfect host for the Academy Awards?

Cates enters his record-setting sixth year as producer of the annual awards, to be held this year at the L.A. Shrine Auditorium on March 27, and sources said he’s heavily wooing Letterman to host the show, though there’s no word on whether he’ll accept. Letterman has resisted in the past, but sources said the talks are serious.

Billy Crystal, Cates’ host for the first four years, is doing post-production on the film “Forget Paris.” And last year’s host, Whoopi Goldberg, will be co-starring with Gerard Depardieu in the Norman Jewison-directed New Regency comedy “Bogus,” and thus also unavailable.

Outside of Letterman, the number of capable hosts is limited. Robin Williams is always a contender, but his schedule’s complicated by the fact that the TriStar film he’s now shooting in Vancouver, “Jumanji,” doesn’t wrap until March 21, less than a week before the kudocast.

No comment from Cates’ side, or Letterman’s. The downside of getting Letterman is that the Oscar crowd would have to sit in a cold auditorium, since Dave is famous for working in a 40-degree studio.

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