August 2, 2013

Ellen DeGeneres to host 2014 Oscars

LOS ANGELES - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named two women to prominent positions this week.

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In this April 29, 2013 file photo, TV host Ellen DeGeneres arrives at the season 4 premiere of "Arrested Development" in Los Angeles. Producers announced Friday that DeGeneres will return to host the Oscars on March 2, 2014.

Katy Winn/Invision/AP

Friday it announced that Ellen DeGeneres will host the 2014 Oscar show.

Earlier in the week, the academy's board of governors elected Cheryl Boone Isaacs president, the first African-American to hold the post and the first woman in three decades.

In June, the organization invited 276 new members to join - 100 more than the previous year and arguably its most diverse slate ever.

Could this be in response to the 2012 Los Angeles Times study that stung the academy by pointing out what many suspected: Hollywood's pre-eminent film organization is a mostly white, male group?

"The academy is making an extraordinary effort to embrace women and minorities, and be (more) inclusive," said awards expert Tom O'Neil.

Other industry watchers say these visible appointments are part of the academy's continuing effort to shed its old-boy image - one that may have been reinforced last year by Seth MacFarlane's sexist humor and short-lived Oscar producer Brett Ratner's public homophobic remarks.

"If you wanted to pick somebody that would tacitly or implicitly be an absolute rejection of the bad behavior of the last couple years, what could be a better way to distance yourself from that than to pick the most famous and popular lesbian entertainer in the world?" said Scott Feinberg, an industry analyst for The Hollywood Reporter.

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