Chris Rock to host the 88th annual Academy Awards

- Chris Rock will host the 88th Oscars, the film academy announced today, even though he received mixed reviews when he had the gig 11 years ago.

The academy will hope that Rock can deliver better reviews than last year's show, which was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and dropped 15 percent in viewership.

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," recalled the Los Angeles Times.

Rock's selection as host continues the academy's recent push toward diversity, according to The Times. Earlier this year, the group invited 322 new members to join, its largest class ever, and the makeup of the newcomers
included more than 23 percent people of color and more than 28 percent women.

"Chris Rock is truly the MVP of the entertainment industry,'' Oscar telecast producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin said. "Comedian, actor, writer, producer, director, documentarian -- he's done it all. He's going to be
a phenomenal Oscar host.''

The 50-year-old Rock responded that "I'm so glad to be hosting the Oscars. ...It's great to be back.''

The 88th Oscars will be held Sunday, Feb. 28, at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center and broadcast on ABC.

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