After losing Kevin Hart, the Academy’s initial choice for this year’s Oscars host, the powers that be are considering forgoing a single host altogether in favor of an ensemble approach. After some speculation, Kevin Hart confirmed last week that he would be the host of this year’s Oscars, but unexpectedly stepped down just three days later.
The surprise announcement came after homophobic tweets and statements resurfaced in the days after his confirmation as the Oscars' host. In a personal statement, Hart revealed that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences issued an ultimatum: he either release an apology or step down. He chose to step down, though he later did apologize to the LGBTQ community.
In light of this unexpected turn, and with just over two months until the ceremony, Variety reports that the Academy is scrambling to find a solution, even considering going without an official host altogether. In recent years late night hosts have been the go-to for Hollywood’s biggest night, but the Academy is worried about anyone potentially too “edgy,” while at the same time concerned that someone safe could continue the trend of low ratings. The answer may lie in utilizing the A-list roster of talent on hand for the night, and featuring actors and actresses doing something “buzzy” to throw to commercials. Presumably the idea will be better fleshed out in the Board of Governors meeting set to take place Tuesday night.
While most Oscars ceremonies have been presided over by a single host, this wouldn't be the first time in the awards show's 90-year history that a bevy of stars split the hosting duties. Ten shows were hosted by three or more people from 1956 to 1987, with the longest streak of team hosting events occurring from 1972 to 1977. Most of these ensembles included a mix of hosting vets, comedians, actors and performers - such as the 47th Oscars hosted by Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope, Shirley MacLaine and Frank Sinatra. They also threw together some truly strange groupings, like Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Richard Pryor and Walter Matthau for the 55th event.
Should the Academy fail to find a satisfying solution to the current crisis, there's still a precedent - five shows have gone on without an official host, most recently in 1989. Of course, the main job of the host is to entice people to tune in, and then to keep them entertained enough to keep watching. With the debacle of the proposed popular film Oscar earlier this summer, the Academy is clearly willing to try any means necessary to increase viewership. Perhaps this controversy, and the potential “new” hosting style will be the answer the Academy has been looking for.