Versatile funnyman Jimmy Fallon is used to performing in front of live audiences, due to his time spent working as a regular cast member on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and, currently, as the host of his own NBC late night show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
He’s also hosted numerous award shows, including the MTV Movie Awards (several times), and, most notably, the 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards. His seasoned experience in these fields had to play a role in him emerging as a frontrunner to host the 2013 Academy Awards ceremony, but Fallon has since shot down rumors of securing the gig.
In an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show (currently airing in London due to the Olympics), Fallon was very straightforward when asked about hosting the Oscars:
“No, I’m not going to do the Oscars. It’s an honor to be asked by the Academy, but it’s not my year.”
The Wrap reported recently that Fallon, along with SNL creator Lorne Michaels, had been approached by former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak about hosting and producing next year’s event, respectively.
While Fallon didn’t touch on his reasons for not hosting, it seems evident the crossover to another network (in this case ABC) was the biggest obstacle. The LA Times noted that ABC wasn’t thrilled with the idea of Fallon hosting, mainly because it has its own late night talk show host in Jimmy Kimmel, who competes with Fallon for an audience. Kimmel’s lined up to host this year’s Emmy Awards (airing on ABC this year), which takes him out of the running to host the Oscars.
According to the Times, ABC doesn’t own veto power over the host in its deal with the Academy - but because it pays a $70 million annual fee for the broadcast rights, the Academy is obviously going to take the network’s preferences under strong consideration.
Still regarded as one of the more popular award shows on television, the Oscars has been searching for a ratings boost for years, particularly among the younger demographic. Two years ago, Anne Hathaway and James Franco were chosen to host (again, with a younger audience in mind), but the duo, who had little experience in this field, were given mixed to poor reviews - in part because of some strange and clunky gags they were supposed to act out (Franco randomly walking onto the stage dressed in drag still befuddles people).
Last year, Billy Crystal had to step in to host after Eddie Murphy dropped out, and the show garnered nearly identical ratings to the previous year. While it’s difficult to predict if Fallon’s involvement would have resulted in an overall ratings boost, he most likely would have brought in more of the coveted younger viewers, as its the same demographic he appeals to on his late night show. The question now is who will emerge as the next candidate? Will the Academy opt for another late night host (unlikely, due to the same issue Fallon ran into), an actor, or some other type of performer (a Justin Timberlake-type, perhaps)?
The 2013 Academy Awards will air on ABC on February 24.