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Comedian Ellen DeGeneres picked to host 2014 Oscars

Ellen DeGeneres smiles as she talks to a reporter while arriving for the Mark Twain Prize ceremony in Washington, October 22, 2012. REUTERS/
Ellen DeGeneres smiles as she talks to a reporter while arriving for the Mark Twain Prize ceremony in Washington, October 22, 2012. REUTERS/

By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Ellen DeGeneres will make her second appearance as an Academy Awards host next year, organizers said on Friday, in a move widely seen as a less provocative choice for Hollywood's highest honors after a ribald performance by Seth MacFarlane.

DeGeneres, the star of her own daytime talk show "Ellen," first hosted the Oscars in 2007, becoming only the second woman to fill that exalted role alone, after Whoopi Goldberg.

"I am so excited to be hosting the Oscars for the second time," DeGeneres said in a statement. "You know what they say - the third time's the charm."

"I'd like to thank @TheAcademy, my wife Portia and, oh dear, there goes the orchestra," the comedian added on Twitter.

The Oscars, which are broadcast globally, often look to a host's star power to attract a larger TV audience. Recent shows have averaged 37 million to 40 million viewers domestically.

DeGeneres, 55, earned an Emmy nomination for her performance in 2007 in which she departed from traditional Oscar hosting decorum and ventured into the audience for spot gags, at one point handing director Martin Scorsese a script of her own.

"There are few stars today who have Ellen's gift for comedy, with her great warmth and humanity," said Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who produced the 84th Academy Awards show last year.

'A DECIDEDLY DIFFERENT TONE'

The choice of DeGeneres suggests the Academy is turning to a more amenable host who has shown in the past to be skilled at poking fun at Hollywood without rankling its biggest egos.

Last year, MacFarlane, the creator of animated sitcom "Family Guy," got mixed reviews for his song and dance routines, including one about on-screen female nudity, and jokes that were often aimed at the expense of the biggest stars in attendance.

"Choosing DeGeneres, known for her kindler, gentler humor, signals that the Academy's next awards show will have a decidedly different tone than the 85th Academy Awards," trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter wrote.

DeGeneres also earned praise for her performance as the host of TV's Emmy awards in 2001, which was twice delayed because of the September 11 attacks, memorably lightening the somber mood by asking, "What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?"

The announcement of DeGeneres as host also comes on the heels of Hollywood marketing executive Cheryl Boone Isaacs being elected as the first African American president of the 6,000-member Academy, which has made an effort to diversify its ranks after coming under fire for being too male, old and white.

Trade publication Variety saw the choice of DeGeneres as a continuation of the Academy's "Year of the Woman," writing that the Oscars "will put women in the driver's seat."

Disney-owned ABC will broadcast the Oscars on March 2.

(The story corrects spelling of MacFarlane in paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Doina Chiacu)

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