A real STARSTUDDED (60A: Like the Oscars … or the answers to this puzzle's seven asterisked clued?) puzzle today! I had to look a bit to find the sixth and seventh asterisked answers! I kept looking at WISECRACKS (46 Words from class clowns) and MADAGASCAR (32A: Title island of a 2005 DreamWorks animated film), but to no avail. They are, instead, out on the perimeter - the amusingly dated (right? No one makes this claim anymore, do they?) LESSTAR (13D: *Cigarette ad claim) and the even-more-obscure ASTARTE (40D: *Ancient fertility goddess).
Even after the rough start in the NW, with DRJ, EAU, and PJS (none of which is terrible by itself, but the group together seemed a little much), this puzzle won me over with the excellently clued BEERGUT (11D: Opposite of six-pack abs, ironically). After that, it was a smiling solve.
Nice clues for little stuff, too. TEE (66A: Driving need), EST (69A: Suffix for braggarts), ORE (48D: Some Scandinavian coins) (well… at least it's different!), DAS (69D: Hip-hop's ____ Racist) (!), KEG (45D: Bud holder, of sorts), and how 'bout that strange "Dennis the Menace" pairing? Where'd that come from? GIE (9D: Bestow on, to Burns), however, is pushing it. Any of those damn "Burnsisms" is pushing it, if you ask me… and I love poetry!
Overall, I liked this one. It wasn't perfect, but for a Wednesday, it wasn't bad.