Big change coming to 2019 Oscars
The organisers of the Academy Awards are desperately scrambling to find a new host after the abrupt departure of comedian Kevin Hart. But, with just 75 days to go, they're reportedly considering a bold move.
According to Variety, the Academy didn't have a backup host to call upon after Hart, 39, suddenly pulled the pin after his old homophobic tweets resurfaced, and is "freaking out" as it rushes to find a replacement MC for the 2019 ceremony.
However, two top comedy agents, who spoke to the publication ahead of an emergency Academy board meeting to come up with a plan, said one option currently being explored is to go completely host-free. Instead, February's 91st Academy Awards would offer "a bunch of huge celebs, something SNL style, and buzzy people" to usher the show along.
One possible scenario on the table, according to Variety, is a "stunt like a group monologue".
The Oscars have gone host-less before, though not since 1989 when Rain Man took home Best Picture. The ceremony that year was panned by critics as dull and cringeworthy.
In 2011, the telecast deviated from the traditional single host, calling on actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway to co-host. The ill-conceived coupling was widely considered to be a trainwreck, with Franco later admitting he regretted it and felt trapped by the show.
In the past decade, big name comedians such as Jimmy Kimmel, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Crystal and Steve Martin have hosted the show. Actors Neil Patrick Harris, Hugh Jackman, Seth MacFarlane and Alec Baldwin have also been given the call up.
Yet there is increasingly little reason for stars to take on the Oscar hosting gig. After helming the show in 2017, late night host Kimmel revealed he was paid just $21,000 - even as ABC charged millions of dollars per 30-second advertisement for the broadcast.
"I'm not sure I was supposed to reveal this, but nobody told me not to … They asked like 14 people, and they all said no, and then there was me," he told radio station KROQ last year.
According to TMZ, the Academy opts not to increase the host's low pay because scoring the gig is considered a major career boost.
Among those who have reportedly turned down next year's job: Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld and Justin Timberlake, the New York Post reports. So far, Busy Phillips and Ricky Gervais have put their hands up to host.
Social media has a few suggestions:
I want Hannah Gadsby to host the Oscars. pic.twitter.com/kv8tOSaYVN— Raychelle Burks (@DrRubidium) December 8, 2018
Why don’t the Oscars have several of the women who had their careers destroyed by Harvey Weinstein host?— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) December 8, 2018
The Academy announced last week that Hart had agreed to tackle the hosting gig next year. However the announcement was quickly met with backlash over the history of the Night School star's homophobic comments. A clip form Hart's 2010 comedy special Seriously Funny in which he spoke about his fears his son would grow up "being gay" was also sent around.
The father-of-three eventually addressed the outrage after allegedly being asked to apologise by the Academy, announcing he would step down as host in the process.
"I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's …. this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists," Hart told fans on Instagram. "I sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.
"I'm sorry that I hurt people. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart.
"Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again."
It's not the first time the Academy Awards have been hit with controversy. In 2011, Eddie Murphy stepped down as host in solidarity with Brett Ratner, the producer for the show. Ratner, who was accused by six women of sexual assault in 2016, last year was further tarnished in a #MeToo scandal in which he was accused by six women of sexual assault, resigned from the Oscars just months before the ceremony, after he publicly joked "rehearsal is for f*gs" at a film Q&A. (Ratner has denied the assault allegations.)