Ellen DeGeneres is returning to host the Oscars next March, following on from last year's rather controversial turn by Seth MacFarlane. It's the second time that the actress and chat-show host has headlined the Academy Awards, which she also compered in 2007, and should come as a welcome relief to those Hollywood stars still scarred from last year. DeGeneres style, after all, tends to be genuinely droll but rarely mean, and her chat-show suggests that most of Hollywood is friendly and at ease around her.
Her 2007 turn as host saw DeGeneres ask Steven Spielberg to take a picture of her with Clint Eastwood (for her MySpace page - so long ago!) and try to pitch a screenplay to Martin Scorsese (''It's a cross between Goodfellas and Big Momma's House!''). Strangely, that project hasn't emerged, but it was a good night for Scorsese, who finally lifted Best Director and Best Picture for The Departed. It also saw one of the best musical numbers of recent years, A Comedian At The Oscars, which is surely ripe for a sequel.
“We are thrilled to have Ellen DeGeneres host the Oscars,” said producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron in a statement. “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.”
“I am so excited to be hosting the Oscars for the second time. You know what they say – the third time’s the charm,” said DeGeneres.
Next year's awards will be held on March 2, 2014, and with a raft of well-pedigreed films scheduled for the second half of this year it should be a close-fought race. DeGeneres will next be on the big screen, incidentally, in Pixar sequel Finding Dory, but that's not due out until November 2015 so this doesn't count as part of the publicity round. So this is all bad news for fans of Neil Patrick Harris, whose day will surely come, but how do you feel otherwise? Quietly encouraged? Loudly encouraged? Or were you rooting for someone else?