LOS ANGELES: Billy Crystal said he passed on the Oscar hosting job that went to Jon Stewart because his one-man stage show is consuming his attention.

Academy Awards producer Gil Cates repeatedly asked, “Please do the show,” calling as late as just before Christmas, Crystal said. But his Tony Award-winning ‘700 Sundays’ was his first priority. “I’m so tired at the end of ‘700 Sundays,’ he said. ‘700 Sundays,’ currently playing in Los Angeles, concludes its limited engagement. It previously played in New York and Chicago. Stewart said he is pleased to have the chance to host the Oscar’s, but speculated there were alternative motives to his being chosen. Crystal has been a reliable performer for the Oscars. The ceremony turned last year to Chris Rock, who drew younger viewers but managed to annoy some academy members with his jokes about stars including Jude Law and Tobey Maguire. The 78th annual Academy Awards will air March 5 on ABC from Hollywood.