The Insider

updated 01/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/17/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

HOST OF DECISIONS

Billy Crystal may be the host with the most when it comes to ratings, but we hear he's thinking of hanging up his microphone as emcee for this year's March 21 Academy Awards. This is not the first time Crystal has thought of stepping out of the spotlight. Last year he was also indecisive about doing the show but was eventually coaxed back into his tux.

Now, however, it seems the comic may be serious about abandoning his ringmaster duties for good. According to a source, Crystal is not only going to turn down a dale with Oscar but he has also hinted that he will ask the Comic Relief organization to relieve him of cohosling next year's televised benefit for the homeless. Evidently, says the source, Crystal feels that after six years it will be time for his duties "to be passed on to someone else."

A rep for Gilbert Cates, the producer of the Oscar telecast, will only say there's "no news to report on who the host will be."

TOOL TOME
What's the deal? First, Jerry Seinfeld wrote his best-selling book SeinLan-guage, and now it appears that Home Improvement star Tim Allen is going to try a volume of his own. A source tells us that Allen's reps are in negotiation with Hyperion Books, a division of Disney, which happens to produce Home Improvement. Though our source says that other publishers have made offers for Allen's book, it's unlikely he'll stray far from Home. Allen's manager, Richard Baker, says, "Hyperion has made us a generous offer, competitive with the market, and we are seriously considering it. Disney has been aggressive about wanting to do this book."

A PRUDENT CHOICE
We hear Mary Jo Bnttafuoco recently consulted a plastic surgeon about fixing the right side of her mouth, which still droops a year and a half after she was shot in the head by Amy fisher. But according to her lawyer, Dominic Barbara, Mary Jo's doctor told her to wait a year to minimize the risk that the bullet, which is lodged between her right ear and upper neck, might shift during surgery, causing greater injury. "After all she's been through," says Barbara, "we don't want her to die in plastic surgery."

DIANA ROSS LEARNS HER LESSON AT LAST
How can a 10-day, $4,800 crash course in French take almost six years to complete? Ask Diana Ross. In the late '80s, while she was developing a movie project about the life of American expatriate Josephine Baker, Ross signed up for French lessons from Michel Thomas, the man who coached Grace Kelly before her marriage to Prince Rainier. When HBO announced its own Baker film, Ross abandoned hers—and the lessons as well. Now, Thomas says that Ross will be in Manhattan to finish the course "in the next few weeks." Perhaps she's boning up for her Feb. 4 date in Cannes, when France will honor her with a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters award.

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