Chris Rock is in serious talks to host the 88th Academy Awards, Variety has learned, with an official announcement expected shortly.
A spokesman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences declined to comment.
Rock is no stranger to Hollywood’s biggest event of the year, having previously hosted the Oscars in 2005. The veteran comedian has also worked with new Oscar co-producer Reginald Hudlin, who directed the pilot of Rock’s popular but now defunct TV series “Everybody Hates Chris.”
On Sept. 1, the Academy named Hudlin and David Hill as producers of next year’s ceremony after ratings sharply fell 16% for the 2015 telecast, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. In an interview with Variety that day, the producing duo said they had already begun discussing potential hosts, looking at the possibilities of a solo performer or a combination of people for the duties.
Hill is a longtime veteran of live TV, thanks to his years at Fox Sports and “American Idol,” among others. His pairing with film vet Hudlin marked a departure for the Academy, and they promised that this year’s show will be similarly unexpected: Adding some new elements to freshen the broadcast, while respecting the tradition of the Oscars.
Rock, who generally got thumbs-up from critics for his previous hosting stint, ruffled a few feathers at the Academy Awards with his barbs at the industry, such as questioning why Jude Law was starring in so many films, which drew a testy rebuttal from presenter Sean Penn.
In the decade since Rock’s Oscar stint, Ellen DeGeneres hosted twice (2007, 2014), as did Jon Stewart (2006, 2008). Otherwise, there haven’t been repeats; doing one-time solo hosting were Hugh Jackman (2009), Billy Crystal (2012), Seth MacFarlane (2013) and Harris (2015), plus the teams of Steve Martin with Alec Baldwin (2010) and James Franco and Anne Hathaway (2011).
The 2016 Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 28, 2016.
The website RobotButt first reported the speculation about Rock.
Watch Rock’s monologue at the 2005 Oscars:
|PHOTOS: Recent Oscar Hosts|