Picks and Pans Review: Ellen Degeneres
BY TOM GLIATTO
The announcement last fall that Ellen DeGeneres would host this year's Oscars (ABC, Feb. 25, 8 p.m. ET) earned an instant put-down from awards blog Gold Derby. And I quote: "Zzzzzzzzzz." I for one would like to thank the Academy for hiring a comic who understands that sometimes it's enough to unreel a string of small, pointed jokes. To see DeGeneres in action is like watching a kite launched in a summer breeze: How light and charming. Light charm can be underrated in a world in which the big ambition is to lasso a new demographic by hiring a cutting-edge satirist like last year's host, Jon Stewart (who didn't improve the ratings). The idea this time apparently is to go with a host who, like Johnny Carson of old, is lean, pleasant, uncluttering—who matches all those thin Plexiglas sheets that serve as sets. Okay by me. Billy Crystal's tsunami-scale opening numbers, the Oscar gold standard, usually left me feeling both entertained and pummeled. Will Ellen be memorable? Does she have to be? After all, the most unforgettable moment in recent Oscar history was David Letterman chanting "Uma" and "Oprah" in 1995. Ellen'll be fun; she'll be good.