The 2019 Academy Awards will forgo a proper host for the first time in 30 years, according to reports.
In one of the most radical changes in the awards show’s history, the Oscars will be without a host. For the first time in three decades, the Academy Awards will instead select a A-Listers to introduce various segments instead of relying on a marquee name to kick things off with a monologue.
Variety reports: “The producers and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the Oscars, are scrambling to line up top talent needed to carry the telecast, which is just six weeks from airing live — on Feb. 24 — from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. Hand-wringing at the Academy has been palpable.”
“The people who produce that show are hogtied by the Academy, who as a group are not willing to change very much. It’s hard to know how anyone in my community can really contribute,” one prolific awards show and live events producer told Variety, speaking on condition of anonymity.
This comes after original host Kevin Hart, dropped out within hours of being selected when he refused to apologize for decade-old remarks about homosexuals which resurfaced on Twitter.
Initially, the comedian was defiant. “I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I moved on, and I’m in a completely different space in my life,” Hart said in a video on Instagram in the aftermath. “I’m going to be me; I’m going to stand my ground.”
He later quit that same day, apologizing for his past remarks, “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,” he wrote on Twitter. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
However, since a polarizing appearance on the talk show Ellen, Hart has continued to double down on his unwillingness to engage in dialogue with a critical LGBTQ community. “I’m not hosting the Oscars this year,” said Hart during a Wednesday sit-down on Good Morning America. When asked if he will host in the future he said, “It’s hard to predict what can happen.”
The show’s producers are said to be moving forward with a broadcast which will instead feature “starry skits and play up a high-profile year for music in film, thanks to likely nominees Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, and Kendrick Lamar”, one individual involved with the show said.
“Why not give it a shot? Things are so polarized anyway, any host that says anything will be analyzed to death,” suggested media consultant Brad Adgate. “No host might be an experiment, and, let’s face it, the days of Bob Hope and Billy Crystal hosting are over.”
The last time the ceremony had no host was during the 61st Academy Awards in March 1989, which began with a universally parodied musical segment starring Rob Lowe and Snow White which was watched by 42.6 million people when it aired.
Last year’s show’s ratings delivered an all-time low, with a drop of nearly 19% year over year to 26.5 million viewers. The academy is currently locked into a broadcasting deal with ABC until 2028 and faces ratings and financial pressures which also includes its long-anticipated $388 million museum, set to open in late 2019.
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