Chris Rock returning to host Academy Awards
Comedian and filmmaker Chris Rock is returning to host the 88th annual Academy Awards show, 11 years after it appeared he'd never be invited back.
Rock's next date with immediate second-guessing is Sunday, February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
The legacy of Rock's previous hosting gig is how angry his monologue skewering Hollywood made Sean Penn when fellow actor Jude Law became a running punchline. Law was very much in demand at the time, although his movies weren't making money. Rock used the situation as a plea to Hollywood producers:
"If you want Tom Cruise and all you can get is Jude Law, wait!"
Later, after a riff on why it was so tough to get The Passion of the Christ produced, Rock blurted a line that even made Oprah Winfrey cringe: "That means Jesus and Mel Gibson can't get into a club as easy as Jude Law."
Penn took particular exception to Rock's quip: "Who is Jude Law? Why is he in every movie I see?"
"Forgive my comprised sense of humor," he said, going off-script. "I just want to answer our host's question about who Jude Law is - he's one of our finest actors."
Critical reactions were mixed. Time magazine ranked Rock among the 10-worst hosts of any awards show ever; Rolling Stone later named Rock the No. 1 Oscars host of all time. (But to be fair, Rolling Stone also employs notorious movie review quote whore Peter Travers.) Even supporters could tell Rock was nervous, rushing through what were expected to be applause and laugh breaks.
The 2005 telecast's Nielsen ratings were among its highest in the 21st century, with an estimated 42.1 million viewers. Million Dollar Baby was the best picture Oscar winner that year.
Neil Patrick Harris hosted the Academy Awards in 2015, scoring decent reviews while the all-important viewership plunged 16 percent (36.6 million viewers) from the previous year when Ellen Degeneres was ringmaster. Last year's numbers were the lowest in six years.