Neil Patrick Harris to host Oscar 2015 ceremony
Stage, film, and television actor Neil Patrick Harris will host the 2015 Oscars, a.k.a. the 87th Academy Awards ceremony, Oscarcast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today, Oct. 15. This will be Neil Patrick Harris’ first time hosting the show, which in the United States will air live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 22.
As quoted in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences press release, Zadan and Meron are “thrilled” to have Harris host their show, adding that “we have known him his entire adult life” and “to work with him on the Oscars is the perfect storm.” As to be expected, Harris’ statement reads that “it is truly an honor and a thrill” to be invited to host the 2015 Academy Awards ceremony.
Neil Patrick Harris is an experienced awards-show host. His credits in the field include hosting the 61st and 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, in addition to the 63rd, 65th, 66th, and 67th Tony Awards. The latter series of hosting gigs earned him four Emmys.
And let’s not forget that Harris performed the opening number at the 2010 Oscar ceremony.
Neil Patrick Harris movies, TV and stage work
Neil Patrick Harris is a multiple Emmy and two-time Golden Globe nominee for his role as Barney Stinson on the TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Additionally, in 2010 Harris took home an Emmy for his guest-starring role on Glee, while two previous Golden Globe nominations were for the sitcom Doogie Howser, M.D. (in 1992) and, as Best Supporting Actor, for his film debut in Robert Mulligan’s Clara’s Heart (1988).
Other Neil Patrick Harris movies include: Starship Troopers (1997), Prop 8: The Musical (2008), Dracula’s Daughters vs. the Space Brains (2010), The Smurfs (2011), The Muppets (2011, as himself), and The Smurfs 2 (2013).
Besides, Harris did some voice-acting in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010), and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013). Likely Best Picture Oscar contender Gone Girl, in which Harris has a key supporting role, is his first “prestige” box office hit. Directed by David Fincher, the mystery thriller stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.
On Broadway, Neil Patrick Harris recently starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which earned him the 2014 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
And finally, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography has just come out via Crown Publishing. See, it’s all about good timing.
In Feb. 2015, Neil Patrick Harris will join a long, long list of Oscar hosts, dating back to the first Academy Awards ceremony held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929. That year, superstar Douglas Fairbanks and director William C. de Mille shared hosting duties.
From then on, the list of Oscar hosts – almost invariably male – ranged from Will Rogers to Johnny Carson. Here are a few more names (solo, or sharing duties with a cohost): director Frank Capra; TV talk-show hosts Jon Stewart and David Letterman; multitasker Seth MacFarlane; and the following actors:
Lawrence Grant. Conrad Nagel. Robert Montgomery. Paul Douglas. Fred Astaire. Dick Powell. Danny Kaye. Donald O’Connor. Tony Randall. James Stewart. Frank Sinatra. Jack Lemmon. Billy Crystal. Chevy Chase. Steve Martin. Hugh Jackman. Alec Baldwin. Chris Rock. James Franco. Anne Hathaway. And, most frequently, Bob Hope.
Whoopi Goldberg became the first solo female Oscar host at the 1994 ceremony, when Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List won Best Picture. Ellen DeGeneres – the Oscars’ first openly lesbian host – followed suit at the 2007 ceremony, when Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was the Best Picture winner. To date, Goldberg and DeGeneres remain the two solo female Oscar hosts.
Having said that, I should add that for a while in the ’50s the Oscars featured hosts at simultaneous ceremonies in both New York and Los Angeles. Actresses Claudette Colbert, Celeste Holm, and Thelma Ritter performed hosting duties in different years, along with male counterparts such as Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis.
And finally, several Oscar ceremonies, mostly in the late ’50s and the early ’70s, featured multiple hosts. Among these were the likes of Natalie Wood, Helen Hayes, Goldie Hawn, Rock Hudson, Burt Lancaster, Jane Fonda, Laurence Olivier, Carol Burnett, Ellen Burstyn, Gene Kelly, George Segal, Warren Beatty, and Richard Pryor.
And for those into Oscar “firsts,” Neil Patrick Harris is the first openly gay man to host an Academy Awards show. And to think that not that long ago the (multifaceted) Academy was called homophobic because Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, the odds-on favorite in early 2006, failed to take home the Best Picture Oscar.
Oscar television ratings go up
After years of dwindling viewership, the last two Oscars telecasts, both also produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, went up in the (domestic) ratings.
Besides winners 12 Years a Slave, Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) – Gravity was the only major domestic box office hit among them – the 2014 Oscars hosted by Ellen DeGeneres also featured a surprise appearance by a pizza-delivery guy. The show was American television’s most-watched entertainment event in a decade, drawing the biggest Academy Awards viewership since 2000 (the year American Beauty won Best Picture): more than 45 million people at some point during the telecast.
As icing on the cake, the 2014 Oscar ceremony was a hit on social media, with “more than one billion impressions” generated on Twitter and “25 million interactions” on Facebook. Topping it all off, the Ellen DeGeneres-led, star-studded selfie featuring DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Lawrence, and Lupita Nyong’o became the most retweeted photo of all time, reaching 32.8 million views.
And what about next year? According to reports, both Ellen DeGeneres and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have been approached.
Hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, the 2015 Oscars will take place at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. In the U.S., the show will begin at 4 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. The Oscarcast will also be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
Neil Patrick Harris photo: Eric Schwabel.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.