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Goldberg set to host Oscarcast

This year’s Academy Awards presentation will be makin’ Whoopi.

Oscar-winning actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg hasbeen tapped to host the 66th Oscar show.

Goldberg, who becomes the first woman and the first African-American to serve as a solo host of the show, replaces Billy Crystal, who hosted the previous four shows, but announced last month that he would not return this year (Daily Variety, Jan. 21).

Goldberg, who won a supporting actress Oscar for her role in “Ghost,” will be making her second appearance on the Academy Awards show.

“I’m thrilled about my date with Oscar,” Goldberg said in a statement. “To go from watching to winning to hosting in one lifetime is major.”

With Crystal’s announcement that he would not return as host, Oscar show producer Gilbert Cates was suddenly faced with the tough task of finding a replacement — a job made even more difficult because the show is scheduled for March 21, a week earlier than usual.

While a number of names had been mentioned as possible successors to Crystal — including Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase and Johnny Carson — sources close to the Oscar show contend that Goldberg had always been at the top of Cates’ list and that he was looking for a way to work around the schedule of the actress, who is currently filming New Regency/Warner Bros.’ “Boys on the Side” in Pittsburgh.

“Whoopi Goldberg has all the qualities of a great Oscar host,” Cates said in a statement. “Watching the Oscars is a great annual tradition for movie lovers around the world, and with Whoopi Goldberg as host, it will be great fun as well.”

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