Brace yourself: Chris Rock, the no-holds-barred comic who brought us such raunch-a-thon specials as 1999's Bigger & Blacker and 1996's Bring the Pain is pulling a Billy Crystal. Yup, he's hosting the venerable 77th Academy Awards Feb. 27.
While more conservative Academy members may be squirming in their seats, they shouldn't worry that Rock, 39, might suddenly decide to work blue. He previously hosted the MTV Video Music Awards (in both 1999 and 2003), and also presented/cohosted at the 1998 Emmys. Rock (who's currently shooting The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler) has also logged plenty of time in the audience at awards ceremonies, picking up three Emmys for his TV work and a pair of Grammys for his comedy albums.
Rock is a far cry from Oscar's most reliable host, eight-timer Billy Crystal, but the Academy is clearly hoping Rock's edge will draw in a crowd worthy of his predecessor. When Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, and Steve Martin stepped into Crystal's shoes, ratings fell off. ''I am a huge fan of Chris Rock,'' Gil Cates, the producer of the Oscars telecast, told the AP. ''He always makes me laugh and he always has something interesting to say.'' Yes, but did he see Pootie Tang?