Hugh Jackman to host new-look Oscars

Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:17pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Australian actor Hugh Jackman was named on Friday as host of February's Oscars in a departure from the tradition of picking U.S. comedians on Hollywood's most prestigious night.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which hands out the world's top film honors, said Jackman, 40, star of the romantic epic "Australia," will host the televised ceremony for the first time.

The actor, who also starred in the three "X-Men" movies and is an award-winning musical theater performer, has hosted Broadway's Tony awards three times and last month was named 2008's "sexiest man alive" by People magazine.

"Hugh Jackman is a consummate entertainer and an internationally renowned movie star," said Laurence Mark and Bill Condon, the new producers of the televised show.

"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," the pair said in a statement.

Oscar nominations for the best movies and performances of 2008 will be announced in January. The awards will be handed out on February 22 by the Academy at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood and will be televised in the United States by the ABC network.

Jackman's choice heralds a new direction for the 81st Oscar ceremony after recent years of falling TV ratings.

Typically, the program has been hosted by U.S. comedians, and in recent years, show organizers have experimented with a variety of hosting styles ranging from political satirist Jon Stewart, to edgy Chris Rock and popular Ellen DeGeneres.   Continued...

<p>Actor Hugh Jackman arrives for the premiere of the film "Australia" in New York November 24, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>