The Oscars reportedly will go on without a host this year, marking the first time that has happened since 1989. About a month ago, actor/comedian Kevin Hart was hired to emcee Hollywood's biggest night, but shortly after the announcement, he became subject to severe criticism and backlash due to old homophobic tweets and jokes of his resurfacing. In the interest of not being a distraction to the Academy Award winners, Hart opted to step down in early December, and no replacement was ever found.
For a moment, it looked like Hart could come back, but he recently shut the door on that possibility. With the Oscars happening on February 24, time was running out to find a new host. Despite there being no shortage of options available, all has been quiet on this front since Hart withdrew. One idea floated out earlier was the concept of a host-less show, which has only happened once in the history of the Oscars (the infamous Rob Lowe/Snow White "Proud Mary" performance in 1989). Academy members better hope they have better luck in 2019, because it looks like the ceremony will go on sans host.
According to Variety, the Academy is currently planning on holding the Oscars without a host and are working on securing a roster of celebrities to help lead into the telecast's segments. Apparently, they were open to Hart coming back, but that was before his polarizing Ellen interview a week ago - where Hart demonstrated little-to-no remorse for his previous comments, was depicted as the victim of an Internet smear campaign, and Ellen DeGeneres allegedly "mischaracterized" a conversation she had with the Academy about Hart's potential return. Smartly, the Academy opted to go in a different direction.
It's a bit surprising the Academy didn't just write a blank check to someone like Billy Crystal (a nine-time host who is well-liked), but it should be interesting to see what they come up with for the show. Sources informed Variety that due to the revamping of the broadcast, this year wasn't going to be as dependent on the host carrying things along as in the past. Among the changes being implemented in 2019 are a strict three-hour broadcast window and relegating some technical categories to an edited package that will be shown towards the end. In a way, this could be beneficial for the Academy, at least for one year. People may tune in out of sheer curiosity - boosting the show's lagging viewership ratings. And with recent ceremonies getting bogged down in various comedy sketches, perhaps things will move along at a quicker pace without a single host to focus on.
Even if the host-less Oscars is a big hit and goes off without many issues, this likely won't become the new norm. It's still a rather unprecedented turn of events (again, this is only the second time in nine decades this has happened) and one the Academy will surely want to avoid as they look ahead to the 2020 show. In a way, it's embarrassing how things turned out and even without Hart there, the situation is going to hang over the proceedings. Hopefully, it works out for everyone involved.