Funnyman Chris Rock has emerged as the front-runner to host the 2016 Oscars.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter the comedian is in talks to take the reins of the 88th Academy Awards in February (16), 11 years after hosting the 77th Oscars in 2005.
Producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill have had Rock down as a favourite for weeks, according to Academy insiders, and Hudlin has a history with the comic – they teamed up for the TV sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, which centred on Rock’s upbringing. Hudlin directed the show’s pilot.
During Rock’s one and only Oscars hosting gig, he drew heat from Sean Penn after making a joke at Jude Law’s expense early in the evening.
The comedian said, “Who is Jude Law? Why is he in every movie I have seen in the last four years? He’s in everything?”
Penn seemed to take offence when, before handing out the Best Actress prize to Hilary Swank, he took aim at Rock, going off script and stating, “Forgive my compromised sense of humour, but I did want to answer our host’s question about who Jude Law is; he’s one of our finest actors.”
After the event, Rock told reporters he tracked Penn down backstage to make sure the actor wasn’t furious with him.
“I talked to Sean backstage and we’re cool…,” he said. “It’s just a joke. Jude Law probably made a scillion (sic) dollars this year. I would never hit a person that’s down. Jude Law‘s fine. I’ll go and see another Jude Law movie; maybe he’ll put me in one of his movies.”
If Rock does agree to host next year’s big night, he’ll follow Neil Patrick Harris, who fronted the 2015 show.