Several sources had contacted us earlier today to inform us that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was looking to find a host for this year’s Oscar ceremony that was “more straightforward and traditional” rather than go with another comedian. And according to reports from inside the Academy this afternoon, they will be officially announcing shortly that actor Hugh Jackman (Australia, Wolverine) will host the 81st installment of the famed awards show.
Jackman would be the first non-comedian host since 1988, when there was no host for the 61st Annual Awards.
UPDATE: More from Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily:
…while the 40-year-old Sydney-born thesp of English parentage has received the AMPAS offer and is very interested, I’m told that he’s not yet fully committed. Because there’s still a lot of negotiating ahead between his showbiz representatives and AMPAS. I’ve learned that the people around Jackman want to know exactly what would be expected of him, especially when it comes to opening the Oscar broadcast. One segment of the show which reps for Jackman are objecting to specifically is the joke-telling monologue. “I don’t want that for him,” an insider told me. “He is an actor with big movies behind him and one coming this summer. He didn’t work the last 20 years to suddenly be a stand-up comedian.”
UPDATE #2: Official Press Release from AMPAS:
Hugh Jackman to Host
81st Academy Awards®
Beverly Hills, CA –– Hugh Jackman will host the 81st Academy Awards® telecast, producer Laurence Mark and executive producer Bill Condon announced today. This will be Jackman’s first time center stage at the Oscar show, although he has previously been a presenter.
“Hugh Jackman is a consummate entertainer and an internationally renowned movie star,” said Mark and Condon in a joint statement. “He also has style, elegance and a sense of occasion. Hugh is the ideal choice to host a celebration of the year’s movies – and to have fun doing it.”
Jackman stars in the current release “Australia,” directed by Baz Luhrmann. He will next be seen in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” having portrayed the title character in the previous three smash-hit “X-Men” movies. His other film credits include “The Prestige,” “Flushed Away,” “The Fountain,” “Happy Feet,” “Van Helsing,” “Kate & Leopold” and “Swordfish.”
A native of Australia, Jackman won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in “The Boy from Oz.” He has served as host of the Tony Awards ceremony and won a 2005 Emmy for that assignment.
Jackman’s other stage credits include “Carousel,” “Oklahoma!” “Sunset Boulevard” and “Beauty and the Beast.
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.