By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated November 07, 2002 01:00 AM
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Billy Crystal can leave his tux in the closet. Likewise Whoopi and her various states of drag.

Hosting chores for next year’s 75th Anniversary Academy Awards will go to Steve Martin, Gil Cates, producer of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’s annual telecast, announced Thursday.

The show will air live on ABC Sunday, March 23, 2003, from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

In a statement, Cates, 68, said, “It’s wonderful to work with a host who’s done it before.” He called Martin “witty, clever, sharp, intelligent, quick on his feet and always on top of the unfolding action.

“Wait, I’ve forgotten something. Oh yeah, and outrageously funny.”

This will mark the second hosting appearance for comedian-actor-author Martin, 57, who handled the duties in 2001. Despite then-record-low ratings (the ceremony bottomed out again last year with Whoopi Goldberg as host), critics applauded Martin’s cool wit and elegance.

For those who follow such factoids, Martin also has served as a presenter on six shows. He introduced a Best Picture clip on the 69th telecast in 1997, and he also participated in a gag film sequence for the 67th show in 1995, according to the Academy.

“I’m very pleased to be hosting the Oscars again, because fear and nausea always make me lose weight,” Martin said.