Has The Academy Lost its Nerve Hiring Ellen DeGeneres as Oscars Host?
Ellen DeGeneres is a safe, yet underwhelming choice of Oscars host.
Ellen DeGeneres has been announced as the host of the Oscars for 2014, confirming our fears that the Academy would lose its bottle after the Seth MacFarlane debacle and retreat to safe, fluffy ground for next year.
"It's official: I'm hosting the #Oscars! I'd like to thank@TheAcademy, my wife Portia and, oh dear, there goes the orchestra," the comedienne and talk show host tweeted on Friday (August 2, 2013).
"We are thrilled to have Ellen DeGeneres host the Oscars," said producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who managed to survive the cull from last year, "As a longtime friend, we had always hoped to find a project for us to do together and nothing could be more exciting than teaming up to do the Oscars.
"There are few stars today who have Ellen's gift for comedy, with her great warmth and humanity. She is beloved everywhere and we expect that the audience at the Dolby Theatre, and in homes around the globe, will be as excited by this news as we are," they added in a statement.
"I agreed with Craig and Neil immediately that Ellen is the ideal host for this year's show," said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President. "We're looking forward to an entertaining, engaging and fun show."
DeGeneres hosted the 79th Academy Awards in 2007, winning a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. A female, gay host of the Oscars was a genuinely progressive step for the Academy, given her predecessors were Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart. And by all accounts she was pretty funny, without being particularly edgy. She joked about the British in her opening skit:
"Would I say too many [nominations]? Not here. At home in my pyjamas with a half of box of Chardonnay, who'd know what I'd say?" she joked.
"You're sitting out there wondering if you're going to win...and if you win...what you're going to say..but you shouldn't worry about that..6 billion people are watching," was another.
The problem the Academy has is that it doesn't know what the hell makes a decent Oscars show anymore. In 2010, they seemingly picked the most popular male and female Hollywood stars of the moment, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, which made an absolutely horrendous spectacle.
You could almost predict the Academy's next move as soon as Franco and Hathaway had left the building. Of course, they were straight on the blower to everyone's favorite Oscars host Billy Crystal, who agreed to helm the 2012 ceremony.
The problem there was that a whole new generation of movie fans were sat in their underpants watching the Oscars with a couple of beers and Twitter fired up on their iPads. Their favourite comedians were Ricky Gervais, Louis CK and Chris Rock. Their favourite television shows were Curb Your Enthusiasm, South Park and American Dad. They did not want to see Billy Crystal doing a dance and blacking up. I mean, who does, really?
And so to the Academy's next board meeting. "We need someone young! We need someone relevant! We need someone hip!" shouted the senior members, "We need the guy from Family Guy!" yelled another. Seth MacFarlane hastily agreed to helm the 2013 Oscars and everyone was pretty happy about it.
And then it went wrong. On the face of it, MacFarlane was a pretty good choice as host. Ricky Gervais' damning turns as helmsman of the Golden Globes had gone down pretty well, though that show is known for being a little funnier, a little wilder, a little drunker. MacFarlane did nothing to echo Gervais' well-timed putdowns and just sang about boobs.
However, as much as MacFarlane's hosting was bad, it seems that nobody at Academy towers got the memo about the whole thing being rubbish. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron's ode to the musicals was about as relevant as Billy Crystal's blackface and organisers aren't convincing anyone that there isn't a better team of producers out there.
Bizarrely, the organizers went back to MacFarlane to host in 2014 - which is likely to feature The Monuments Men, Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave - though the 39-year-old comedian said he "tried to make it work schedule-wise, but I need sleep."
So, the Academy try and rehire MacFarlane and then plump for DeGeneres when he declines? What is going on? And what is Louis C.K doing?
Ellen DeGeneres At The Premiere of Arrested Development
Billy Crystal Didn't Go Down Well as Oscars Host
Tina Fey [L] and Amy Poehler [R] Won Rave Reviews as the Golden Globes Hosts