HOLLYWOOD: Television comedian Jon Stewart will be injecting some stinging satire into the Oscars Sunday, giving a political flavor to the Hollywood extravaganza in a presidential election year.
The 45-year-old returns to host proceedings at Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre, two years after making his debut at the 78th Annual Academy Awards in 2006.
That performance received mixed reviews, with some critics saying Stewart had earned the right to be a permanent host while another railed against the comic’s “smug humorlessness.
What is unarguable is that US television viewing figures for 2006’s Oscars were the second lowest in history, and the darling of US liberals will need to be at his funniest this year to win over neutrals.
In 2006, Stewart took aim at a line-up of movies bristling with controversial themes, from the gay cowboys of “Brokeback Mountain to the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in “Munich.
“Steven Spielberg is here. … A best-director nomination for ‘Munich’, a tremendous film, and I congratulate you, sir, Stewart said.
“From the man who also gave us ‘Schindler’s List’. ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Munich’. I think I speak for all Jews when I say I can’t wait to see what happens to us next. Trilogy!
Since 1999, Stewart has hosted the satirical cable TV news program “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which has a small audience but has developed a cult following and is required viewing among US liberals.
While his show targets a niche market, the New Yorker who was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz has attracted widespread US media attention for his merciless and unflinching prods at the administration of President George W. Bush.
Stewart joins a select group of including Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Bob Hope, comedian Chris Rock and Ellen DeGeneres to have hosted the Oscars.
“Jon was a terrific host for the 78th Awards, said Gil Cates, producer of the Oscars telecast. “He is smart, quick, funny, loves movies and is a great guy. What else could one ask for?
In addition to a career as a stand-up comedian and “Daily Show host, father of two Stewart also had minor roles in several motion pictures, including “Death to Smoochy, “Big Daddy, “The Faculty and “Playing by Heart.