Why the Oscars Producers Chose Chris Rock to Host

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Reginald Hudlin, David Hill

Producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill predict: "He's going to hone every word, every phrase, every sentence."

Although Reginald Hudlin and David Hill, who are producing the 88th Oscars, originally talked of hiring two hosts to front the broadcast, the producers said they opted for a solo host once they secured Chris Rock — with Hill joking, "We decided on Chris and Rock."

Downplaying reports that other co-hosts like Amy Schumer were under consideration, Hill said, "It became apparent that Chris by himself was the way to go. If you tried to pair him with someone, it wouldn’t have the same comedic impact of him working by himself. So that’s where we ended up." Rewatching Rock's performance at the 77th Oscars convinced them that he deserved a return engagement, Hill explained: "He had so many on-the-money observations about the business, delivered in such an enlightened and entertaining way."

The fact that Hudlin and Rock have worked together — Hudlin directed Rock in 1992's Boomerang and also helmed the pilot for the 2005 TV series Everybody Hates Chris that Rock co-created — was a factor in convincing the performer to return to the Oscar stage, where he hosted the show for the first time in 2005, they said. "It was lucky because of Reggie's relationship with Chris — there's a level of trust between the two of them," Hill commented.

"We’re friends," Hudlin added. "I know his mother, he knows my mother. We're always looking for opportunities to work together, most recently at the 2014 Governors Awards, where he was part of the tribute to Harry Belafonte and did a spectacular job." In fact, the two producers ironed out final details about the gig with Rock over a dinner at Hudlin's house Monday night.

Rock, who Hudlin described as a "big-picture thinker," is expected to take a very hands-on role in helping shape the show, working as a producer as well as host. "The key thing," said Hill, "is that he’s coming to the show, not simply as a performer, but as a producer as well. He'll know every aspect of the show as we're planning it, step by step."

Added Hudlin, "He's one of the best hosts we could get, one of the guys who is absolutely hilariously funny and who has a brilliant and intelligent sense of humor. He's done pretty much every job in the business — as a performer, as a comedian, as a director and producer and writer in film and television and documentaries. Chris attracts incredible talent, the number of people who want to write for him, who want to perform with him. There’s already been an incredible response of A-level talent in every category who want to work with Chris."

Testified Hill, "He's the ultimate professional. He prepares before he does a gig like this like he's writing a Ph.D thesis. He’s going to hone every word, every phrase, every sentence."

The 88th Oscars will be held on Feb. 28, broadcast live by ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

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