Don't know about you but I think Hugh Jackman -- best known as razor-taloned Wolverine of the "X-Men" movie franchise and light-footed Peter Allen in "The Boy from Oz" on Broadway -- is an inspired choice for Oscar host. The Tony-winning singer/dancer/actor with the Justin Timberlake pipes, Patrick Swayze moves and streaky screen successes is a charm machine who, on the basis of prior award-show appearances (check out this 2004 turn on the Tonys), can ad-lib his way into the Host Hall of Fame.
Tricky thing, this host business. As Oscar hosts, reliably hilarious David Letterman, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart fell on their keisters while Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Steve Martin -- who had one foot in stand-up and the other in the screen trade -- stood tall. Because Crystal, Goldberg and Martin were of Hollywood, the Academy audience embraced them and it played better to the home audience. Jackman, who looks so much like the young Clint Eastwood that he might be his son, has that insider cred -- and a cult following among" X-Men" fanboys, girls who treasure him in "Someone Like You" and "Kate and Leopold" and those fierce Broadway fans of "The Boy from Oz." He also has affection from the (admittedly small) cohort of older Academy members who geneuinely liked him in the throwback "Australia."
Jackman is the choice of first-time Oscar producers Bill Condon and Lawrence Mark, who promise some "surprises" for the broadcast. Here's a chance for you to suggest ways of streamlining and retooling the show which, unlike the Tonys and Grammys doesn't have the advantage of live performances by actors and musicians.
Friend of Flickgrrl Adam B, co-host ot the essential Throwing Things blog , made this suggestion about the Oscarcast the year Chris Rock failed to rock the house:
They need to bring back the 1-2 minute clips of each nominated movie so that viewers have some sense of why each was nominated -- you need Sylvester Stallone up there saying, as Ebert put it, "Million Dollar Baby tells the story of an aging fight trainer and a hillbilly girl who thinks she can be a boxer. It is narrated by a former boxer who is the trainer's best friend. But it's not a boxing movie, for reasons that become clear later on. In the scene you're about to see, Maggie tries to convince Frankie to manage her," etc. Otherwise, there's no context for the awards at all, and especially in a year where the nominated films were not mass blockbusters, it's necessary."