Chris Rock will host the 88th Oscars, the film academy announced today, returning the comedian to a gig that earned him wildly divided reviews in his one and only turn at the job 11 years ago.
Rock’s second stint as host had been predicted as a strong possibility since the academy hired Reginald Hudlin and David Hill to produce the 2016 show. Hudlin worked with Rock previously, directing the pilot episode of Rock’s TV show “Everybody Hates Chris.” Hudlin also produced the academy’s Governors Awards last year where Rock was on hand to pay tribute to Harry Belafonte.
The academy will hope that Rock can deliver better reviews and, more importantly, higher ratings than last year’s show. The 2015 telecast’s audience dropped nearly 15%, with host Neil Patrick Harris struggling through a sluggishly paced evening. In 2014, the Ellen DeGeneres-hosted show, with its star-studded selfie that temporarily disabled Twitter and other interactive skits and bits, drew an average of nearly 44 million viewers.
Rock’s previous stint as Oscars host produced a wide range of reactions, with USA Today crowning him “one of the worst hosts ever,” while Roger Ebert praised a “home run” opening monologue that was “surprisingly pointed, topical, and not shy of controversy.”