Oscar 2007: Host Ellen DeGenerees

Sept 8. 2006–Ellen DeGeneres was named host the 79th Academy Awards telecast, to air Feb. 25.
Laura Ziskin, who’s the producer of the show, first came up with the idea while watching DeGeneres host the 2001 Emmys. “I was so blown away by her,” Ziskin said.

That Emmy kudocast had been twice postponed, due to the Sept. 11 terrorist, and then by the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. DeGeneres still did a phenomenal job, getting thumbs up from critics and audiences.

The announcement comes relatively early in the season; sometimes the host is not named until December. Ziskin said, “I made a decision early and I wanted to get her involved as early as possible. I feel she’s such a wonderful writer.”

DeGeneres marks the sixth host in six years: Since the 74th ceremony in 2002, the hosts have been Whoopi Goldberg (the first time Ziskin produced the show), Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart.

Though she has never appeared on the Oscars, even as a presenter, DeGeneres has twice been solo host of the Primetime Emmy Awards; she also co-hosted the show in 1994. And she hosted the Grammys in 1996 and 1997.

Despite being a kudocast vet, DeGeneres said, “There are so many award shows, but the Oscars are still the epitome of awards. Every year I hope to do it. Thank God they asked me!”

She won’t interrupt tapings of her daytime talkshow — for one thing, February is sweeps month. “I’m used to doing a bunch of things at once,” said the performer. “I’m fine with that. I’m just going to have to conserve my energy. My show is a priority, but Laura and I want to make the Oscar show great.”

She added that DeGeneres has a quality that is rare but crucial for an Oscar host: “You’re as happy to see her in Hour Three of the show as you are in Hour One.”

DeGeneres said, “It’s great to have this much notice” and said she will start work immediately. She hopes to bring to the Oscars the same qualities as her talker and standup: “A lot of humor is cynical and aggressive and audiences are so jaded. I’m hoping to get rid of that.”

The syndicated talkshow “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” this year won its third Emmy for talkshow, with DeGeneres taking home her second Emmy for talkshow host.

“She just sparkles,” said Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Sid Ganis in a statement. “She is such a pleasure to watch. Her wit cuts to the truth of things, but in a wonderfully warm-spirited way. I think she’ll be a fantastic host for this show and we’re extremely pleased that she’s agreed to do it.”

The ceremonies will be held at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland and broadcast live on ABC, beginning at 5 p.m. (PST), with a half-hour arrivals segment.