LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscars, Oprah; Oprah, Oscars. One can almost hear David Letterman saying it.
Talk show queen and cable network owner Oprah Winfrey has emerged as a top candidate to host the Academy Awards telecast next February, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Friday.
The Sun-Times, citing unnamed sources inside the academy, said that event organizers felt Winfrey's presence would expand the show's audience and, given that her daytime talk show ended only recently, organizers believe she will lure her legions of fans to the 84th Oscar show in February.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which gives out the film industry's highest honors, had no immediate comment.
Should Winfrey host the show, she would become the third solo female to do so behind Whoopi Goldberg -- who hosted four times -- and Ellen DeGeneres.
Earlier this year, actress Anne Hathaway co-hosted the Oscars with James Franco in an attempt by the Academy to lure in younger viewers.
However, only 37.6 million Americans watched the ceremony, making the telecast one of the least-watched Academy Awards shows of the past 10 years. It was down nearly 10 percent from the 41.7 million who tuned in the previous year when Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin co-hosted.
Comedian Letterman hosted the show in 1995 and was panned by critics for his performance after starting off with a poorly received comic bit in which he introduced Winfrey to actress Uma Thurman, saying "Oprah, Uma; Uma, Oprah," because they both have unusual first names.
(Reporting by Zorianna Kit; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)