The Oscars have gone from naughty to nice.
Ellen Degeneres will be taking over the emcee duties for the March 2 Academy Awards telecast, her second turn overseeing Hollywood’s biggest event. She announced the news via Twitter: “It’s official: I’m hosting the #Oscars! I’d like to thank @TheAcademy, my wife Portia and, oh dear, there goes the orchestra.”
Degeneres returns to the Oscar stage as the kinder, more self-deprecating comedian compared to Seth MacFarlane, who brought some much-needed edge but also divided some viewers with his more acidic, raunchier comedy style when he hosted last February.
“I am so excited to be hosting the Oscars for the second time. You know what they say – the third time’s the charm,” DeGeneres joked in a statement released by the Academy.
On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences elected its new president marketing executive Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and one of her first responsibilities was to approve the ABC broadcast’s new host. No time was wasted, clearly.
Producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan (Chicago, Hairspray, The Bucket List) say they pitched Boone Isaacs the idea of Degeneres hosting the very next day. According to Meron, who tweeted about the process after the announcement, the new president approved immediately. They the sent a pitch to Degeneres, who called them Thursday morning to say: “I’m in!”
Meron and Zadan signed on to run the show again in April, just two months after the ratings success of their first time at the helm with MacFarlane last February.
Degeneres previously hosted in 2007, when The Departed was the best picture winner, and the late Laura Ziskin (producer of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films) was the producer of the show.
Ratings were strong the year she hosted. In fact, MacFarlane’s ratings were the strongest since she’d hosted. He pulled in 40.3 million viewers, and she brought in 39.9 million.
Degeneres also has the strategic advantage of hosting a popular daily talk show, which will provide a bully pulpit for promoting the March awards telecast.
Although no one would accuse the ultra-nice Ellen of bullying. Let’s call it a sweet-talk pulpit, instead. In any case, it’s a powerful platform for the 86th annual Oscars.