Jon Stewart gets second chance at hosting Oscars


Jon Stewart, seen here as the host in the 78th Academy Awards telecast in Los Angeles on March 5, 2006, will host the 2008 Oscar Awards ceremony. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, MARK J. TERRILL

By Sandy Cohen

LOS ANGELES – Jon Stewart is getting a do-over as Oscar host.

America’s favorite faux newscaster, who drew mixed reviews for his first stint in 2006, has been picked for a return engagement in February, the film academy announced Wednesday.

“I’m thrilled to be asked to host the Academy Awards for the second time because, as they say, the third time’s a charm,” Stewart said Wednesday in a statement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

“He did a great job two years ago,” Oscar telecast producer Gil Cates told The Associated Press Wednesday. “You need a host who is not afraid of the unexpected, who can stand out and really work a room and deal with a live show. Jon, of course, does that on his show every night.”

The 2007 show, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, drew 40.1 million viewers, compared to the 38.9 million who watched when Stewart hosted the previous year. But bringing back Stewart is “not a bad choice,” said longtime TV critic David Bianculli of the New York Daily News.

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“Stewart has such good will, and the worst mistake people have made – in the Oscars especially – is trying to be a little bit too cold to the room rather than cool enough for the room,” he said.

Besides, people don’t tune into the Oscars for the host, Bianculli said: “It’s up to the films in contention more than anything else.”

AP television critic Frazier Moore called Stewart a “TV veteran” who “did a good job last time and will be even more comfortable this time in the role.”

“He always brings some needed irreverence and smarts to pretty much anything he does,” Moore said. “The Oscars are an often very pretentious, self-important institution, and somebody like Jon Stewart is very useful to help deflate a little of that pomposity.”

In his first Oscar gig, the star of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” made jokes about the Iraq war and ribbed Hollywood’s elite about their ties to the Democratic Party.

“His usually impeccable blend of puckishness and self-effacement fell flat,” an AP review said, adding he was “too deferential, too nice and too obvious in his targets.”

Stewartnoted the split decision on his own cable TV show the night after the Oscars, saying he had a great time but didn’t know how he fared until he saw the reviews.

“I sucked and was great!” he joked.