Oscar producers bank on 'funny, very kind' host Ellen DeGeneres

By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Now they know how big the show is and how much people care, but the producers of the Oscars aren't making any apologies for their maiden effort running Hollywood's biggest show last year or the provocative humor of its host, Seth MacFarlane.

Despite some harsh reviews from TV critics, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron pulled in the largest U.S. audience in three years, a ratings bump in the 18-49 demographic coveted by TV networks and, perhaps most importantly for them, a second chance to show what they could do.

"I would say this year we are undaunted," Meron told Reuters backstage at the Dolby Theatre from where ABC will broadcast the Academy Awards on Sunday. Last year, 40.3 million U.S. viewers tuned in to watch the film industry's top honors, a glamorous event broadcast to 200 countries.

For this year, the producers have teased a homage to movie heroes, like Erin Brockovich, Harry Potter and Nelson Mandela, and a heavy dose of hit Oscar-nominated songs by hot artists, including Pharrell Williams and U2. There will be surprises, they promise.

But the single biggest reason to tune in on Sunday in their minds? Ellen DeGeneres, comedian, day-time talk show maven and soon-to-be two-time Oscar host.

"She is funny and yet in her way she is very kind as well, and I think it's a great blend," said Meron.

"We are very proud of last year's show and we love Seth," Meron added. "Seth represents current comedy as does Ellen. They are both experts in the their field."

But Meron bristles at the notion that the 56-year-old DeGeneres is a safe choice, someone who won't offend like MacFarlane, the creator and star of TV series "Family Guy" who pushed boundaries with his risque jokes about female nudity and zingers about gays and Jews. The Los Angeles Times called the change in hosts from "naughty" to "nice."

"Ellen is a brilliant talent," said Meron, who with Zadan has produced Broadway shows and the film version of the musical "Chicago." "Brilliant talents, I don't think, are ever safe."

Unlike some of the other awards shows in town, like the Golden Globes which has Tina Fey and Amy Poehler locked in for three years, the Oscars are changing hosts every year. Before MacFarlane there was a return to tradition with nine-time host Billy Crystal after a widely panned appeal to youth with co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco.

'OSCAR GODS'

Despite the rotation, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, says there is "absolutely no crisis" when in comes to picking Oscar hosts.

"We are very, very thrilled," she said. "Not only this year do I have the veterans of Craig and Neil, but also Ellen," who hosted Hollywood's biggest night for the first time in 2007.

Meron and Zadan inoculated themselves against criticism before they even took the job the first year and found solace in the fact that at least people talked about the show.

"In this age of social media, people love to start taking things apart, especially popular things," Meron said. "So thank God we were popular enough for people to start wanting to criticize it."

For the youth audience that was pulled in last year by MacFarlane and entertainers like Adele, Meron says they hope to bring it back with a combination of DeGeneres, tributes to superheroes and top musical acts, from the cool Karen O singing "The Moon Song" to the family friendly Idina Menzel belting out "Let It Go."

But then, there are those unscripted moments that no one plans for and that are the real reason people want to watch the show. There was Jennifer Lawrence tripping up the steps last year when she went to accept her best actress Oscar or Jack Palance doing one-arm push-ups at the age of 73 after winning his best supporting actor award in 1991.

"Those are the things that Gil Cates, who was our great predecessor and one of the greatest producers of the show, called Oscar gods and he wanted the Oscar gods to smile," said Meron.

(Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Cynthia Osterman)

Yahoo Cricket

Most Viewed

  • Ranbir Kapoor goes gown on his knees to propose to Deepika Padukone
    Ranbir Kapoor goes gown on his knees to propose to Deepika Padukone

    All the eyes are on Ranbir Kapoor and his ex beau Deepika Padukone who have been shooting together for their upcoming film Tamasha. Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone were shooting for a romantic scene, where Ranbir had to go down on knees and propose Deepika Padukone. You can see in the pictures, Ranbir Kapoor goes down on Knees, while Deepika Padukone gets surprised on it. The film stars Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone and is directed by Imtiaz Ali. …

  • Beef Ban Takes Bollywood By Storm!
    Beef Ban Takes Bollywood By Storm!

    Bollywood celebrities are now coming forward and voicing their opinion on different matters. First it was the controversial AIB Roast, and now it’s the ‘Beef Ban’ that took the Internet by storm. To exercise their right to freedom of speech, our Bollywood celebrities took to their Twitter accounts and posted their views on the recent ‘beef ban’ sanctioned by Maharashtra government. Mumbai being the hub of most of Bollywood celebrities who opt to dine as they wish this news came as a shocker. …

  • Saif-Kareena Kapoor Khan And Soha-Kunal Khemu’s Wild Holiday
    Saif-Kareena Kapoor Khan And Soha-Kunal Khemu’s Wild Holiday

    Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan with hubby Saif Ali Khan spend their quality time with newly wed couple Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Khemu. The couples are in Nagarhole, spending their weekend staying over at Saad Bin Jung’s resort, The Bison. In the picture, Kareena, Saif, and Soha Ali Khan are chilling out in open cottage, assuming Kunal Khemu clicking their picture, as he is missing. Kunal Khemu tweeted, On the early morning safari at Nagarhole wildlife reserve through the mist we spotted this …

  • Sussanne Khan Spent Rs 16 Crore On A Penthouse In Pune?
    Sussanne Khan Spent Rs 16 Crore On A Penthouse In Pune?

    Hrithik Roshan‘s ex-wife Sussanne Khan has bought an expensive property for herself outside Mumbai city. According to recent reports, Sussanne Khan bought a beautiful penthouse in Pune for about 16 crore! The penthouse is located in Trump Towers, Kalyani Nagar and the celebrity interior decorator has bought the property only for investment purpose. A source was quoted saying, “Yes, she has purchased a penthouse in Pune. It is located in Trump Towers, Kalyani Nagar. …

  • Check Out: Alia Bhatt’s Transformed Vanity Van
    Check Out: Alia Bhatt’s Transformed Vanity Van

    Bollywood’s cutest actress Alia Bhatt is too excited and happy for her new personalized Vanity Van. The actress has recently got a new makeover for her vanity van. Alia Bhatt who calls her vanity van as a second home tweeted with a picture, “My second home, my vanity van !!! Thank you amritamahalnakai for transforming my van !! I love you to… Student Of The Year actress got her old vanity van customized into new according to her taste by Amrita Mahalnakai. As you can see in the picture just …

  • Dum Laga Ke Haisha Star Bhumi Pednekar Has Lost Weight!
    Dum Laga Ke Haisha Star Bhumi Pednekar Has Lost Weight!

    Bhumi Pednekar made her Bollywood debut opposite Ayushmann Khurrana in Dum Laga Ke Haisha doesn’t actually look even tiny bit close to her character from the movie. The reason why we didn’t see Bhumi come in front of media to interact, as her character and role in the film was kept a secret from audiences. …

  • Manoj Bajpayee turns gay professor; sports unkempt look for ALIGARH
    Manoj Bajpayee turns gay professor; sports unkempt look for ALIGARH

    The first look of Manoj Bajpayee's character in National Award-winning filmmaker Hansal …

  • Birthday Special: Shraddha Kapoor's cake face
    Birthday Special: Shraddha Kapoor's cake face

    Shraddha Kapoor turned 26 today. This Bollywood actress, who has also ventured into singing, with the EK VILLAIN …

Loading...