Jon Stewart to Host This Year's Oscars

01/05/2006 at 08:00 AM EST

Jon Stewart to Host This Year's Oscars
ron davis/shooting star
Emmy-winning Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart has a new gig: host of the 78th Annual Academy Awards on March 5, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The paper reports that Stewart, 43, secured the deal right before Christmas and that the official announcement will be made Thursday.

The funnyman hosted the Grammy Awards in 2001 and 2002, and his selection by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences follows reports in recent weeks that last year's host, Chris Rock, was not being asked back (at least not in 2006) and that veteran host Billy Crystal refused the Academy's offer to return.

Stewart is hardly a movie name, however. His big-screen credits include the little-seen Death to Smoochy and Half Baked. On the other hand, he is considered one of TV's hottest acts.

In preparation for Hollywood's biggest night, Stewart is likely to take a week off from his satiric Comedy Central news show and he'll be using many of his Daily Show writers, says the Times.

The Oscars will be broadcast on ABC. Last year, an average of 42.1 million viewers tuned in to the ceremony, down 3 percent from 2003, according to Nielsen Media Research.

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