By SANDY COHEN
LOS ANGELES — Jon Stewart is getting a do-over as Oscar host. America’s favorite faux newscaster, who drew mixed reviews for his first stint in 2006, has been picked for a return engagement in February, the film academy announced today. ‘‘I’m thrilled to be asked to host the Academy Awards for the second time because, as they say, the third time’s a charm,’’ Stewart said today in a statement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. ...
‘‘He did a great job two years ago,’’ Oscar telecast producer Gil Cates said today. ‘‘You need a host who is not afraid of the unexpected, who can stand out and really work a room and deal with a live show. Jon, of course, does that on his show every night.’’
Stewart, 44, is also ‘‘a very, very nice guy and very easy to work with,’’ Cates said.
The 2007 show, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, drew 40.1 million viewers, compared to the 38.9 million who watched when Stewart hosted the previous year. But bringing back Stewart is ‘‘not a bad choice,’’ said longtime TV critic David Bianculli of the New York Daily News.
‘‘Stewart has such good will, and the worst mistake people have made — in the Oscars especially — is trying to be a little bit too cold to the room rather than cool enough for the room,’’ he said.
Besides, people don’t tune into the Oscars for the host, Bianculli said: ‘‘It’s up to the films in contention more than anything else.’’
Stewart, who also hosted the Grammys in 2001 and 2002, noted the split decision on his own cable TV show the night after the Oscars, saying he had a great time but didn’t know how he fared until he saw the reviews.
‘‘I sucked and was great!’’ he joked.
The 2008 Oscars will take place Feb. 24 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.