The comic, who's emceed the MTV Video Music Awards, steps up to Hollywood's biggest plate

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 14, 2004 02:20 PM

In what appears to be an effort to appeal to a larger – and younger – audience than it has attracted in recent years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Thursday that Chris Rock will host next year’s 77th annual Oscar ceremony.

This marks the first time ever that the 39-year-old stand-up comic, who previously hosted the MTV Video Music Awards, will have hosted Hollywood’s biggest awards night – a job that’s been handled in recent years by Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg.

“I am a huge fan of Chris Rock,” said Gil Cates, who is returning to produce the Oscarcast, which will be held Feb. 27, 2005. “He always makes me laugh and he always has something interesting to say. Chris represents the best of the new generation of comics.”

A former Saturday Night Live regular, Rock has won three Emmys for his TV specials and two Grammys for his comedy albums. He currently is shooting a remake of The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler and recently provided the voice of the zebra in the animated feature Madagascar, both planned for release next May.

His films include Head of State (which he directed), Dogma, Pootie Tang, Bad Company, Down to Earth and Nurse Betty.

“Having him host the Oscars is terrific,” said Cates.