Jon Stewart to host Oscars

MUMBAI: After much debate the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Ampas) in the US which organises the most prestigious awards show for the entertainment industry the Oscars has announced that comedian Jon Stewart will host the 78th edition of the event on 5 March 2006.

In India the event will air live early in the morning at 6:30 am on 6 March 2006 on Star Movies.

Stewart hosts the satirical news show The Daily Show which can be seen in India on CNN on the weekend. Oscar producer Gil Cates says, "My wife and I watch him every night. Jon is the epitome of a perfect host — smart, engaging, irreverent and funny."

Academy president Sid Ganis echoed Cates' enthusiasm. He says, "I am very excited. Stewart is a superb choice — witty, current, intelligent and charming. What a terrific addition to our roster of great hosts!" These have included actor Chris Rock who hosted last year. Billy Crystal who has hosted the Oscars several times in the past had earlier declined to do the honours this year.

Stewart in true satirical form says, "As a performer, I am truly honored to be hosting the show. 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."

The big question though is whether the viewership for the show will contnue to fall. Last year's Academy Awards drew 42 million viewers, the second-lowest total since 1997. This is something the Academy should worry about. History shows that viewership is very good when a blockbuster like Titanic that is minting money is up for best picture. That is because a big mass of viewers have an interest in seeing whether the film that they enjoyed will do well or not.

This year big ticket films like King Kong, Memoirs Of A Geisha have stumbled badly at the Guild nominations as well as at the Golden Globes. Smaller movies that have not made much money at the box office like Good Night, and Good Luck. Brokeback Mountain, Capote, will probably get best picture and other Oscar nominations as they have fared well at the writers, directors and producer Guild nominations.

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