July 8, 2011 / 7:29 PM / 7 years ago

Oscar organizers downplay talk of Oprah as host

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar organizers on Friday downplayed speculation that former talk show queen and Oscar nominee Oprah Winfrey might be hosting Hollywood’s top film honors next year.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Winfrey, who ended the “Oprah Winfrey Show” in May to run her OWN cable TV network, has emerged as a top candidate to host the Academy Awards in February.

The Sun-Times, citing unnamed sources inside the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said organizers think Winfrey’s presence would expand the show’s audience and, given that her talk show ended only recently, they believe she will lure her legions of fans to the 84th Oscar show in February.

But the academy said no decision had been made.

“Every year there’s always great interest and excitement about who will host the Oscars,” the academy said in a statement. “This is a wonderful example of just that, and at this point, there is nothing for us to comment on regarding who is or is not on the rumored Oscar host list.”

Winfrey was nominated for best supporting actress in “The Color Purple,” and should she host the show, she would become the third solo female to do so behind Whoopi Goldberg — who hosted four times — and Ellen DeGeneres.

Earlier this year, actress Anne Hathaway co-hosted the Oscars with James Franco in an attempt by the Academy to lure in younger viewers.

However, only 37.6 million Americans watched the ceremony, making the telecast one of the least-watched Academy Awards shows of the past 10 years. It was down nearly 10 percent from the 41.7 million who tuned in the previous year when Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin co-hosted.

Reporting by Zorianna Kit; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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