Jon Stewart set to host the Oscars

Jon Stewart, host of cable TV's "The Daily Show," will take over as host for the 78th Annual Academy Awards.

Comedy Central
Published: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 9:51 p.m.
Jon Stewart has been tapped to host this year's Oscars, the Academy of Motions Pictures Arts and Sciences announced Thursday.
The Academy Awards show's producer said Stewart has many of the qualities of previous masters of ceremonies.
"Jon is the epitome of a perfect host - smart, engaging, irreverent and funny," producer Gil Cates said.
Stewart, 43, hosts Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," which has earned seven Emmys and a Peabody award. He also won the 2005 Thurber Prize for American Humor for his book, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction."
Stewart, who will host the Academy Awards for the first time, also has appeared in several movies, including "Death to Smoochy" and "Big Daddy."
"As a performer, I'm truly honored to be hosting the show," Stewart said, then joked: "Although, as an avid watcher of the Oscars, I can't help but be a little disappointed with the choice. It appears to be another sad attempt to smoke out Billy Crystal."
Stewart follows a long line of standup comedians who have hosted the Oscars. Over the years, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Whoopi Goldberg and Crystal have held down the podium.
Speculation swirled after Chris Rock's departure about who would replace him. Rumored candidates included Goldberg, Steve Martin, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. Rock drew younger viewers to last year's telecast, but his barbs skewering stars like Jude Law, Tobey Maguire and others alienated some academy members. Rock is currently producing and narrating "Everybody Hates Chris," a sitcom on UPN based on his life.f-z The 78th annual Academy Awards will air March 5 on ABC from Hollywood.
By STEVE POND and SCOTT COLLINS Los Angeles Times Jon Stewart, the Emmy-winning host and co-writer of Comedy Central's mock newscast "The Daily Show," will be named Thursday as host of the 78th Annual Academy Awards, three sources familiar with the selection process said Wednesday, ending months of speculation about the show's next emcee.
Academy officials and longtime Oscar producer Gil Cates have settled on the Stewart, 43, who hosted the Grammy Awards in 2001 and 2002, the sources said.
One of the sources, who has first-hand knowledge of the situation, said that officials contacted Stewart shortly before Christmas and that the deal was wrapped up in a flurry of activity a day or two before the holiday.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences planned to announce the host early this morning. A spokesperson declined to confirm Stewart's selection or comment further.
The academy and longtime broadcast partner ABC have in recent years battled a sharp erosion in Oscar viewership among young adults, those most sought by advertisers.
Although the Oscars are typically second only to the Super Bowl in their ability to draw a large TV audience, the size of that crowd is often influenced by the popularity of the films nominated for best picture. Last year, when Clint Eastwood's relatively small-scale "Million Dollar Baby" was honored, an average of 42.1 million viewers watched, down 3 percent from the previous year, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Unlike such perennial Oscar hosts as Bob Hope and Billy Crystal, Stewart - who once told "60 Minutes" that he dropped his real last name, Liebowitz, because it "sounded too Hollywood" - does not have an extensive movie career (his credits include "Death to Smoochy" and "Half Baked") and is still an unknown quantity to many Americans. But his "Daily Show" perch has made him one of the hottest commodities on cable.
Stewart will be hosting the Oscars in a year when several of the best-picture contenders are small, specialty films with political messages, including "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Syriana," "The Constant Gardener" and "Good Night, and Good Luck."
It's expected that Stewart will take at least one week off from "The Daily Show" to prepare for the Oscars, and that some of show's writers will help write jokes and other material.
In November, a representative for Chris Rock confirmed that his client had not been asked back as host. Rock was credited with helping boost the ratings last year, but the academy's executive director, Bruce Davis, has admitted to hearing complaints from some academy members about the comic's performance on the show, during which Rock memorably riffed on Jude Law's shortcomings.

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