Popular talk show host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres will host the 85th Oscars, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced Friday morning. DeGeneres has hosted the show once before, in 2007.
DeGeneres is one of only two women to host the Oscars solo, with Whoopi Goldberg (who has hosted four times) being the other. Anne Hathaway, Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter and Agnes Moorehead have served as part of two-person hosting teams – though given the energy level of Hathaway’s partner, James Franco, you could make a case that she too was doing the job on her own.
DeGeneres takes the hosting baton from Seth MacFarlane, a polarizing host a year ago and a comedian with a very different sense of humor. While both offer wit, MacFarlane's is of the biting and sarcastic variety while DeGeneres' is far warmer. (It's hard to imagine her in a "We Saw Your Boobs"-style number lampooning frat-boy humor.)
Her presence also means that while the host may not be doing as much singing as MacFarlane did, there may well be dancing.
DeGeneres began her career as a stand-up comedian in New Orleans before starring in her own TV show that won several Emmys and earned the rare distinction of a Peabody Award after she came out as a gay woman in one of the episodes.
She has been the host of a syndicated daytime talk show for 10 years, winning 45 Daytime Emmys in the process, and is also lending her voice to the lead character in the upcoming film "Finding Dory, a sequel to the Pixar smash "Finding Nemo."
"As a longtime friend, we had always hoped to find a project for us to do together and nothing could be more exciting than teaming up to do the Oscars," Zadan and Meron said in a statement. "There are few stars today who have Ellen's gift for comedy, with her great warmth and humanity."
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy's new President, said she "agreed with Craig and Neil immediately that Ellen is the ideal host for this year's show."
The announcement came only one day after Isaacs became Academy president, and marks the earliest an Oscar host has ever been booked. Typically, Oscar show producers are hired in late summer or early fall, and the host announced between October and early January.
MacFarlane was announced on Oct. 1 last year. The DeGeneres announcement quashes what would otherwise be months of rabid speculating on who will host.
DeGeneres' first stint on the Oscar show came for the late Laura Ziskin, who hired the comic for the second and last Academy Awards she produced. The show was in general well-received, with DeGeneres serving as an affable host, at one point heading into the audience and asking Steven Spielberg to take her picture with Martin Scorsese.
She also opened the show banging the tambourine so hard during a gospel-style number that she needed medics to give her aspirin and put cold packs on her hand during the commercial break.
Backstage during that show, DeGeneres was one of the most relaxed of all Oscar hosts. While most hosts retreat to their dressing room during breaks, or huddle with their writers in a small booth in the wings of the stage, DeGeneres freely mingled backstage, talking to winners, presenters and stagehands and occasionally canoodling with her then-girlfriend (now wife) Portia de Rossi.
The 2014 Oscars will be broadcast on ABC Sunday, March 2. The presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.