It’s a good bet that Hugh Jackman won’t be receiving an Oscar nomination for his performance in Australia as the singing, strapping, horse-back riding object of Nicole Kidman’s attentions. Last Friday, Jackman, People magazine’s current Sexiest Man Alive, was chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to host its 81st annual awards. “The Oscars are known in the advertising world as the Super Bowl for women,” The New York Times‘s Brook Barnes noted approvingly, while in a written statement announcing their selection, the show’s producers, Laurence Mark and Bill Condon, called Wolverine “the ideal choice to host a celebration of the year’s movies–and to have fun doing it”–whatever the latter is supposed to mean.
Jackman will become the first host in memory who has no background as a stand-up comedian. Johnny Carson, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Chris Rock–dude, even Billy Crystal–all of them were expected to be funny. “I have no interest in him being Billy Crystal” a “Jackman insider” told Nikke Finke.
What Jackman does have experience at, however,are the song-and-dance routines. For as long as I can remember, everyone but the theater geeks has begged for a moratorium on the musical numbers, but 2009 isn’t looking like the year for that to happen. Jackman, who received a 2004 award as Best Actor in a Musical for The Boy from Oz, and who has played MC at the Tony Awards three times, will surely be wearing his tap-dancing shoes into the Kodak Theater. Since he will also be wearing a tuxedo, here’s hoping that he at least sings a bar or two from Kung Fu Panda.–Benjamin Strong