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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 February, 2005, 10:14 GMT
Academy defends Oscar host Rock
Chris Rock
Rock hosted the MTV Video Music Awards last year
Producers of the Academy Award show have said US comedian Chris Rock will not be made to step aside as host despite poking fun at the ceremony.

A recent interview saw Rock liken the Oscar ceremony to a fashion show and claim no straight black men watched it.

But producers of the ceremony have downplayed Rock's comments, calling them "humorous digs".

Rock was described as the best of a "new generation" of talent when he was chosen to host the 77th Academy Awards.

'Idiotic' show

Stand-up comedian Rock, whose films include Head of State, Bad Company and Down to Earth, will host the Oscar ceremony on 27 February.

Rock, 40, told US magazine Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview that he had rarely watched the Oscars, and called award shows "idiotic".

He said: "Come on, it's a fashion show.

"What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one.

"And they don't recognise comedy, and you don't see a lot of black people nominated, so why should I watch it?"

Some members of the Academy have reportedly called for Rock to be removed as host.

'Funny evening'

But Oscar producer Gil Cates issued a statement saying he and the Academy were standing behind him and denied there had been any calls for Rock's removal.

He said: "The Academy is excited about Chris Rock hosting this year's Oscar telecast and looking forward to a very funny evening with him.

"Chris's comments over the past few weeks are meant to be humorous digs at the show that some people, obviously including Chris himself, think may be a bit too stuffy."

Meanwhile, the Academy has announced that actor Al Pacino will present an award at the Oscar ceremony.

Pacino, who won a best actor Oscar in 1992 for his role in Scent of a Woman, joins Gwyneth Paltrow and Halle Berry on the growing list of stars lined up to present a statuette.


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