The Oscars host debacle has come to a surprising end, it appears. After spending months looking for someone—anyone—who was willing to take on the thankless gig of hosting the biggest night in movies, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected Kevin Hart to host this year’s Oscars. 48 hours later, Hart stepped down from the gig after being given an ultimatum by the Academy: apologize for past homophobic remarks, or step aside. The tweets and jokes—which had been known for quite some time—gained new visibility in the wake of the hosting announcement, and Hart decided he had already apologized and didn’t want to do it again (truly the sign of someone who is genuinely remorseful). So he dropped out, leaving the Academy without a host less than three months before the big ceremony.
So now, per Variety, the Oscars will forge ahead in unique fashion: without a host. The idea is to have a handful of A-listers introduce various segments throughout the show and participate in “starry skits” that will lean heavily on the theme of music in film for 2018, as expected nominees like A Star Is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody brought music to the forefront of their respective stories (albeit in very different ways).
Plans could certainly change, especially if a huge star somehow materializes and wants the hosting gig, but Variety says the idea of Hart returning is “100% dead.” There was a possibility of Hart coming back if the Academy felt his appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ show revealed true remorse, but Hart once again played the victim card as opposed to offering any kind of a genuine apology. Moreover, Variety’s sources say the Academy was “furious” at what they call a “mischaracterization” of Ellen’s call with them, as DeGeneres said on her show that she spoke with Academy members who said this was a big “misunderstanding” and would love to have Hart back. Clearly that’s not the case.
As for how the Oscars telecast will go down, the Academy announced changes earlier last year meant to shorten the show, including presenting some technical awards in a pre-recorded clip package towards the end of the broadcast. It remains to be seen how that will come together, but Variety says this year’s plans include key changes that will require less time from a host anyway, so the absence of one may not be as strongly felt.
The last time the Oscars went hostless, they opened with a musical number in which Rob Lowe sang with Snow White. That 1989 ceremony has lived on in infamy ever since, but times have changed, and it’s possible this year’s ceremony could open with a medley of sorts comprised of popular songs from this year’s Oscar contenders. Folks love to listen to music they know, as evidenced by the box office success of the otherwise exceedingly mediocre Bohemian Rhapsody.
As for the telecast shortening, I’m of the opinion that the Oscars have always and will always be long. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. It’s one night a year for crying out loud. ABC has been chasing higher ratings over the past few years looking for ways to bring in younger viewers, but they neglect to acknowledge the complete and total evolution of the way we watch television nowadays. Moreover, I think the Oscars should be trying to appeal to serious movie lovers, not people who may or may not tune in to see Lady Gaga perform.
There are only six weeks to go so we should be hearing more firm word about the Oscars plans soon, but I actually think a hostless telecast could work well—especially if the producers can nab entertaining talent who may be willing to pop in for a two to three-minute segment as opposed to having to emcee the entire event. My advice? Start putting out calls to folks like Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Seth Meyers, Will Forte, Hugh Jackman, and Steve Martin ASAP.