Pickin' prep

Steve Martin

LOS ANGELES -- Steve Martin says playing the banjo helped prepare him for his Oscar-hosting gig. The actor-writer-musician, 64, says performing live with the Steep Canyon Rangers made him feel comfortable on the Kodak Theatre stage at the Oscars.

Martin says he wasn't sure why he wasn't nervous before co-hosting the March 7 Oscars with Alec Baldwin, but a friend suggested maybe it was because he'd been in front of audiences around the country with his banjo. Martin said in an interview that he "hadn't been on stage live in front of people in a long, long time, except for this," gesturing toward the banjo in his hand.

He'll begin another tour April 19 with the Steep Canyon Rangers. On the Web: www.stevemartin.com.