Friday, January 06, 2006

Who's Succeeded As Host Of the Oscars

The news that Jon Stewart will host the Oscars is about a day old, and Dana Stevens in Slate has rounded up the three different reactions to the news. She seems to have a fourth reaction: he's unsuited for the job and will probably fail.

Call it an inevitable byproduct of the post-modern age: the pre-post-mortem.

Here's what Stevens writes:

"While I think Stewart is a wit in the true sense, unbelievably fast on his feet, and one of the smartest comedians currently working, for some of those very reasons, he may be temperamentally ill-suited to this gig. As a comic and a pundit, Stewart is inherently unsentimental, and the essence of the Academy Awards—its blessing and its curse—is its unironic embrace of show-business sentimentality. All the show's successful hosts in the past—Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres—have had a healthy streak of that quality."

I don't even remember Ellen Degeneres hosting, but maybe that's me. Also, I thought Whoopi Goldberg sucked mightily, but I always do, so maybe that's also me.

The point is, Stevens has an awfully short memory. I would argue that three of the most successful Oscar hosts, no matter what anyone says, were also three of its least sentimental: Steve Martin, Johnny Carson and Bob Hope. All three approached the evening without an ounce of the schmaltz that Dana Stevens seems to think the show calls for.

If Jon Stewart succeeds -- and I hope he does -- it will be because he comes in as Jon Stewart and goes out the same way. But then again, I liked what David Letterman did, so what do I know?

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