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Ellen will flop as Oscar host

September 8, 2006 |  2:01 am

Didn't I warn you back in January that Jon Stewart would be a poor Oscar emcee? Yes, and all I got in return were 1,472 nasty emails and no thanks.

Now Ellen DeGeneres?! I say no thank you and, excuse me: zzzzzzzzzz.

In general, Ellen has proven to be a dull, unremarkable awards-show host in the past — with one remarkable exception: when she saved the Emmys in 2001 after the TV awards had been delayed twice because of U.S. warring in Afghanistan, then had to go on up against the seventh game of the World Series. Ellen hit it out of the park that night. The next day the Hollywood Reporter hailed her in a headline correctly as "The Miracle Worker" after she welcomed viewers to "the 53rd, 54th and 55th Emmy Awards" and said how proud she was to have the job because "what would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?" Another highlight came when she emerged on stage later to face attendees, who'd been told to dress down for the occasion, wearing a rip-off of the swan gown Bjork once wore notoriously to the Oscars, noting, "I guess this is business casual."

Variety was not so appreciative of her hosting turn that night, by the way. While the tradepaper did acknowledge those highlights as "amusing," it noted that "some of her more laborious material was weak" and described the whole evening as a "sluggish three hours." Overall, however, it conceded, "DeGeneres' deadpan style was welcome, and her modest approach to her duties was appealing."

Now the bad news.

The last time she hosted the Emmycast, in 2005, Variety dismissed it as a "ho-hum affair that failed to deliver on officials' promises to be a more lively event. CBS presented a safe and uninspiring show that puttered along and got the job done with no sparks. Nothing that host Ellen DeGeneres said or did fell flat or rattled the roof with laughter." In general, the paper accused her of "flaccid, seemingly ad-libbed hosting."

Back in 1996 when she presided over the Grammys, Variety said the show "lacked fire — it was nearly as smooth and sanitary as TLC's lip-synched performance."

The Hollywood Reporter called that night one of "minimal thrills" and "low-octane efficiency" and begged the Grammys to come back the next year with "a host who can ignite the audience." The Grammys returned with DeGeneres again and the Hollywood Reporter called the result a "yawn-inducing" occasion, adding, "In three hours of bland presentations and forgettable musical numbers, appropriately flagged 'TV-PG' by the on-screen ratings designator, the 39th Annual Grammy Awards telecast seemed to reflect the current lack of excitement in the record industry. Host Ellen DeGeneres' humor never caught fire, and her remark, well into the ceremony, that 'it's a shame you don't see what happens during the commercials,' spoke unintentional volumes about what viewers did see."

So why are the Nielsen-plunging Oscars having such a consistently poor host head their next party? Are they crazy? Apparently so: they were so eager to announce the news that they did so four months before Jon Stewart was unveiled as the last emcee!

Ellen has many of the same drawbacks that Jon had. Neither are movie insiders. Jon's meager film credits include "Death to Smoochy" and "Big Daddy" (ouch! ouch! ) while Ellen appeared as a coach in "Coneheads" and the voice of a fish in "Finding Nemo." Sure, TV icon Johnny Carson pulled off the task successfully five times, but there's always an exception to a rule and, frankly, this rule sounds like a pretty good one: movie insiders should host movies' Big Night.

Don't believe me? I have two words for you: David Letterman.

Academy Awards telecast writer Bruce Vilanch once warned about picking an Oscar host: "You don't want (the audience) to feel like this is a person you jobbed in."

The Oscars are the film industry's annual family reunion and — sorry — Ellen ain't related. The night works best when kin presides over kin, as Steve Martin proved when he once addressed Mickey Rooney in the audience, saying, "Mickey, I'm sorry we couldn't get you a better seat, but Vin Diesel is here."

Or, at another Oscar show prior to the 2002 kudos for "The Pianist," back when industryites weren't quite ready yet to forgive one of their fugitive kind, Martin gasped: "Roman Polanski's here . . . . Get him! "

The chief reason the Oscars are giving Ellen the job and are so excited about it is — let's be honest — because she's so nice. Everybody likes her and she's kind of hip, being a lesbian and all that. Yes, yes, we all adore Ellen and she's funny and a niceypooh talk show host. But she has little potential to turn out to be a great Oscar host and that's what the film academy needs most next time up.

The first Oscar prediction this derby: Ellen won't be a disaster, but she won't be terrific either. Because expectations are so high at Hollywood's Super Bowl, that means she'll be remembered as a flop. So why should viewers bother tuning in?

If those viewers have seen many of her past Emmys and Grammys perfs, it's possible they won't. If it's OK to have a TV gal topline, then why not one who'd really wow us — like . . .

CLICK HERE to Continue Reading!

Photos: After failing at many past award shows, Ellen isn't the right fit for Oscar.

. . . Tina Fey? At least she has a real movie credit — writer and costar of "Mean Girls" — and would probably be available because her new TV show will be in the can early next year.

One good thing about Ellen's scheduled appointment is that the Oscars are tapping a woman for the solo gig. Only one other female has been so blessed: Whoopi Goldberg (four times). Other women have presided, but merely as cohosts, including past winners Ellen Burstyn, Claudette Colbert, Jane Fonda (twice), Goldie Hawn (twice), Helen Hayes, Celeste Holm, Liza Minnelli and Shirley MacLaine. Oddly, too, a few past female snubees like Rosalind Russell (4 defeats) and Diana Ross (1 loss), who've had to oversee the bestowal of awards to other academy members. Worse: Thelma Ritter, the biggest female loser in Oscar history (6 defeats — tied with Deborah Kerr). Imagine how much poor Thelma must've secretly wanted to dive off the stage that night and into the audience to give them all the good smacking they deserved for once having preferred Donna Reed to her!

I wish Ellen DeGeneres the best, really, but I fear the worst. David Letterman, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart probably wish they could've gotta away with a mere slap from critics after they exited the Oscar stage.

Why doesn't everyone just forget this gotta-be-a-woman thing, if that's what is really going on, and pick the best, yet-untapped Oscar host of all possibilities: Jim Carrey? He's perfect: a giant box-office name and a Hollywood insider who has a dangerous sense of humor and a big heart. Just the right combo!

Or double Oscar champ Tom Hanks! Wouldn't he be socko? In so many ways he's the clone of Oscar's greatest host ever: Bob Hope. Hope was so terrif that he holds the record for doing the emcee gig the most — 18 times (11 solo, 7 as cohost). In second place is Billy Crystal (8 times).

The comments to this entry are closed.


Most Americans want their democracy to be on a fair, balanced, and level playing
field. At tonight's Emmy awards we got to see another example of extreme bias coming out of Hollywood, by
bullies who dominate the media. The Emmys presented a continuous barrage of ONE SIDED attacks against
John McCain and Sarah Palin. The Lefty's are always crying about a Republican misuse of power ... while they
DOMINATE a free press, to bully and gang up on Sarah Palin. They slant the news, with no concern
for journalistic integrity, or objectivity. And since they monopolize the media, they deprive
McCain and Palin a platform from which to defend themselves and respond to their attacks.
There's a reason the Presidential election is so close ... It's because HALF of America is for McCain and Palin ...
NOT Obama and Biden ... a fact which these self important snobs choose to ignore, while casting their vile disdain
on he other half of America. Perhaps the 60,000 people who greeted Governor Palin in Florida will remind
these pompous celebrities that there's another America outside of Hollywood ... An America made up of common folks who
built this great country. Even their fancy gowns, make-up, and professional lighting couldn't keep their lack of class and
lack of character from making these celebrities look small and unattractive tonight.

I wanted Stephen Colbert. But if it "had" to be a woman, it should have been Sarah Silverman. She's smart AND funny.

A female host?
No one has mentioned the obvious.
The Divine Miss M.
Everytime Bette Midler has been a presenter, she brings down the house.
Still bawdy, still funny, and as she's aged, she
knows when to pull back from going too far over the top.
But she'd zing the establishment, for sure.
I wouldn't only watch the show, but i'd try to steal tickets.

I won't be watching the show either. After what happen last year I have no faith and I lost respect for the Academy succumbing to homophobia!

But oh, Stephen O, where's the fun in that? It's NOT just a show or a game, these are cultural (and international) huge EVENTS! An annual communal gathering to their TV sets where everybody forgets about each others' race, creed, and differences to become one again and participate in the spectacle. So they can revel in it. Talk about it. Agree or argue about it.
So just pull the stick off your but and relax, have fun, be passionate about it...just don't be a wet blanket and a party pooper. So on with it, everyone!

Why is that just because a gay movie didn't win the oscar it is because of "homophobia"? Seriously, get over yourself and grow up. Plenty of people I know saw both and liked them both. But they all said they liked Crash better. The whole world is not out to keep the gays down, especially by "stealing" the oh so coveted Oscar. Outside of the bubble of Hollywood these kind of things are nothing more than a 5 minute conversation the morning after at work. It's just not that important to 97% of the world. It gets very old how everytime a movie that deals with a controversial subject doesn't win an award or someone says they didn't like they are accused of being a biggot or insensitive. That's just juvenille. Everyone needs to remember that it is just a movie...just a movie. Just like professional sports are just a game...a game. Focus all of this energy on more important things and I bet you wouldn't be so bitter over such trivial things as a movie not getting an Oscar.

Ellen DeGeneres was chosen to host the Academy Awards in recognition (and as a mea culpa) for last year's award going to "Mr. Wrong."

I completely disagree with Alexius. Brokeback was certainly not a "crap" story. It has a long list of awards for it's writing alone, including an Oscar. The film moved many people(straight and gay) and this the first time i have ever heard someone refer to it as crap. You are in the minority on this one.

Look, after the crash/trash bit and the homophobia that kept BBM from taking best picture, I have no intention of watching the Oscars no matter WHO hosts it. There has to be a price paid when this sort of thing happens.

I completely disagree with Anthony Williams...

crash won cause its a much better story..

Brokeback was a crap story and was only up for oscars because it was gay and "controversial" whats the big deal hollywood is full of gay people. We know that.

But i didn't like the Ellen tv show, I don't find her that funny. I prefer a non-pc host like chris rock. Maybe Billy Connoly would be a good host... if only for the 10 minutes before they pulled him off...


As someone who makes their living thru the entertainment world, would it kill you to be supportive and hopeful instead of negative and nasty?

Oh...wait...who would post comments if you were supportive and hopeful?

Great Job.
Keep up the good work (?)

I completely disagree with Mr. O'Neil. I think Ellen is an excellent choice. It's about time the Academy did something different and fresh instead of the same boring crap. I think Ellen is awesome and I'm sure she will be a great and welcomed host.

Mr. Tom O'Neil,

You have taken it too far. I know that Ellen DeGenerous might not be the best choice for this telecast, but saying that she won't do good 6 months before the telecast is just plain messed up. You know what else is more messed up than that? Saying that my show will be in the can early next year. Tom, I bet you havn't even seen one epsiode of my tv show and if you did, I really hoped you liked it like many others did.


Billy Crystal is all time great....Steve Martin was alright...Jon Stewart still a novice but did well...Chris Rock was okay but always annoying more than funny...Whoopee was fun....but Ellen is nice and the Academy I guess is trying to make nice (with the gay community). Well maybe they should have Joan Rivers as host...that would be a scream!....or maybe Rosie O'Donnell..lesbians must be in fashion again...I about Sandra Bernhardt and Elisabeth Hasselback or whatever that Republican The View hack name is and they can bitch-slap eachother silly...

So you pick Jim Carrey over Ellen? The guy who's price tag is too expensive, and studios won't back because the audience won't go see him any more? Or the gal who's talk show is number one and everyone likes? No contest.

Ummm, hello???!!! Conan O'Brien!!!!

Since we won't have him, good luck Ellen.

Another reason for selecting Ellen...remember "Brokeback Mountain". There was and perhaps there still is talk about boycotting Oscars, after the "Crash" disgrace from this year. Perhaps Hollywood is trying to "mend" their errors?

I'm sorry, I simply can't agree. I'm glad that the Academy is going with a TV professional. Let's face it, it's not a movie we're watching, it's a TV show first and foremost.

Does anyone else think this a ploy to win back the gay viewers they alienated after the Brokeback/Crash debacle? AMPAS is desperately trying to prove it's not homophobic by hiring an openly gay host.

I agree with you TOM O´NEIL, excellent article and very brave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am going to have to disagree with you on this one...Ellen is wonderful! She is extremely entertaining and I believe would be the best choice to host the upcoming Oscars.

Everybody, Calm Down! Gee, should we start a breeding process to obtain the "perfect" Oscar host. I thought Ellen was a riot when she hosted the Emmys. She has a calming comfortable presence about her and definetly has the gift of humor. Maybe everyone will be able to take the sticks out of their butts and have a good time for a change. I personally think Kathy Griffin would be alot of fun. Couldn't you just see the celebrities cowering in their seats for fear of Kathy's comic celebrity zingers?

Many of your arguments are invalid. You said in 2005 CBS played it safe with the Emmy's. How is that Ellen's fault and wasn't that still in the wake of nipplegate? I don't know why you insisted on telling us how bad the musical numbers were for the Grammy's because I'm pretty sure that had nothing to do with Ellen's hosting. And you quoted Variety. Variety?? They used the word "flaccid!!!!" Now, don't get me wrong, I wish you all the best, but you attempted to write an inspired artical with supporting facts, and all anyone can take out of it is this: you hate Ellen, you hate lesbians, you hate "niceypooh" people, and you don't want anyone to host the Oscars ever again, because who else do you think would actually say "yes." Even you aren't going to get away with a "mere slap."

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Ellen is an excellent choice for host, and will do far better than the previous "flops" that you mentioned.

Sorry Tom. I like your insight into the awards. But last time you said Stuart would suck, and he was great, terrific actually. You didn't want Chris Rock and he was amazing too. Honestly? If it were for you we would probably end up with the same boring host year after year doing the exact same thing.



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