Hugh Jackman will host the 81st annual Academy Awards in February 2009. Executive producer Bill Condon and producer Laurence Mark made the announcement today. This is a marked departure for the Academy, which has been in the habit of asking comedians to host the big event, in recent years, including last year’s host, Jon Stewart. I thought Stewart did a great job, so I’m not sure what happened. Jackman is super-talented and very well-liked, both in the industry, and by the public, and he should make a fine choice. I wonder if a potential actor’s strike could prevent this from happening, though.
This could also be an attempt by the Academy, to try something new for the show, which has suffered from a drop in ratings during recent airings. It will be Jackman’s first time center stage at the Oscar show, although he has previously been a presenter. The 81st Academy Awards will be presented at the Kodak Theatre on Sunday, February 22, 2009.
Here is some of the press release from the Academy:
“Hugh Jackman is a consummate entertainer and an internationally renowned movie star,” said Mark and Condon in a joint statement. “He also has style, elegance and a sense of occasion. Hugh is the ideal choice to host a celebration of the year’s movies – and to have fun doing it.”
Jackman stars in the current release “Australia,” directed by Baz Luhrmann. He will next be seen in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” having portrayed the title character in the previous three smash-hit “X-Men” movies. His other film credits include “The Prestige,” “Flushed Away,” “The Fountain,” “Happy Feet,” “Van Helsing,” “Kate & Leopold” and “Swordfish.”
A native of Australia, Jackman won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in “The Boy from Oz.” He has served as host of the Tony Awards ceremony and won a 2005 Emmy for that assignment.
Jackman’s other stage credits include “Carousel,” “Oklahoma!” “Sunset Boulevard” and “Beauty and the Beast.
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.