De Caunes back in Cesar's saddle


PARIS -- French actor and TV personality Antoine de Caunes will be master of ceremonies at next month's Cesar awards, France's film academy, L'Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema, said Wednesday.

De Caunes will replace actress-writer-director Valerie Lemercier, who hosted the ceremony for the past two years.

The change in hosts was based on a desire to vary the event's presenter by bringing in a new face every couple of years, and not because of any issues with Lemercier, organizers said.

De Caunes returns to the coveted role he previously held in 1996 and in 1999.

The comedian, actor and writer rose to fame in the U.K. with popular BBC 2 series "Rapido" and Channel 4's "Eurotrash."

The actor will next be seen on the big screen in Alexandre Arcady's "Tu Peux Garder Un Secret?" (Can You Keep a Secret?), set for a May release in Gaul, and is currently in production on "C'est l'histoire d'un mec" (It's the story of a man), about the candidacy of Coluche at the French presidential elections in 1981. He also plans to direct that title.

The Cesar awards ceremony will be held at Paris' Chatelet Theater on Feb. 22 and broadcast live -- and free of charge for nonsubscribers -- at 9 p.m. Paris time on pay TV network Canal Plus. Nominees will be announced Jan. 25.