Funnyman Jon Stewart is convinced more top comics would be willing to host the Oscars if organisers offered them lifetime cinema passes.

The comedian, who will make his first Academy Awards appearance on Sunday (05MAR06), accepts he wasn't the first choice to take charge of Hollywood's big night, but past hosts like Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg weren't interested, and last year's (05) host, Chris Rock, was largely a disappointment.

Stewart insists the fact that the Oscars are so huge and there's a great chance of failure on a grand scale prompts many top comics to turn down the chance to host - but they could be persuaded.

He quips, "Anybody that hosts the Oscars gets 25 per cent off Loews (cinema chain) - lifetime.

"That's be sweet. Then you'd have seen - the other guys wouldn't have been so quick to turn this thing down."