The 81st annunal Oscars are getting a first-time host for the Feb. 22 extravaganza . . . Hugh Jackman.
Watch the claws come out on this choice, the first non-comedian to do hosting duties.
The star of "Australia" and Wolverine in the "X-Men" films was the best host hardly anyone saw of three Tony Award ceremonies (2003-05) -- he won an Emmy for his hosting duties in 2004 -- and he'd be awesome at a Billy Crystal-style opening montage. He won the Tony, too, for "The Boy From Oz," so he knows his way around a stage and how to interact with audiences.
But his choice is a huge departure from Oscar tradition, which has included comedians from Bob Hope to Whoopi Goldberg, Johnny Carson to Chris Rock, Billy Crystal to Jon Stewart . . . you get the idea.
His reps, according to Nikke Finke of Deadline Hollwood Daily, said his main concern had been the traditional joke-telling monologue. But with new producers, a new set director and a new music director, the Academy Awards are opting for big changes in the telecast -- should a SAG strike not pre-empt it.
Jackman is a talented singer, actor, dancer and he's one of the most charming guys in Hollywood. His next movie, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," will open the summer blockbuster season in '09. But even I, as big a fan of the actor as you'll find, wonder: What's the Oscars without an edgy monologue? But the Oscars without even the threat of a Jon Stewart-style political zing, just doesn't seem right.