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banner Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 09:31 GMT
Whoopi returns as Oscar host
Whoopi Goldberg
Goldberg is known for her lavish Oscar costumes
Whoopi Goldberg is to return as host of the Oscars ceremony after taking a two-year break from the prestigious task.

The actress will be the first to present the awards from its new home at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

This year's Oscar race is seen as one of the most open in recent memory, with no clear favourite in any of the categories.

Whoopi Goldberg
Goldberg has hosted the Oscars three times before
Nomination ballots were sent out to thousands of industry figures on Tuesday who will decide which films will compete for the prizes.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences mailed 4,263 ballots to its members in California, the home of the US cinema industry, three days after sending out ballots to members or in other parts of the world.

Last year's event was presented by comic actor Steve Martin, who used his dry wit to entertain the celebrity audience during the four-hour-long ceremony.

Billy Crystal has been a favourite host with the Academy, taking the helm six times during the 90s.

But now it is Goldberg who returns to rostrum to officiate over proceedings at the 74th Academy Awards.


She previously fronted the live show in 1994, 1996 and 1999.

The 46-year-old has herself tasted Oscar glory, picking up best supporting actress in 1990 as a clairvoyant in Ghost.

She was nominated for best actress for her first film The Color Purple in 1985.

"It'll be the first broadcast done from Oscar's new home and I love a housewarming," said Goldberg.


Steve Martin
Steve Martin took charge of the 2001 ceremony

Speaking about the changed climate in the US, she added: "This broadcast, in my opinion, carries a different weight, because it says that we as filmmakers, actors and technicians worldwide will continue to do what we do best and celebrate it. And who wouldn't want to front that?"

The Lord of the Rings has emerged as a strong contender for best film after scooping the honour at Saturday's American Film Institute Awards.

Other films tipped for success include A Beautiful Mind, In the Bedroom and Gosford Park.

Last year's runaway winner was Gladiator, which picked up five awards including a best actor gong for Russell Crowe and best picture.

Nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced on 12 February.

See also:

06 Jan 02 | Film
Tolkien film wins top award
26 Mar 01 | Film
Martin tries at dull Oscars
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