Hollywood’s biggest night — the Oscars — is set to take place next month without a host for the first time in 30 years, after comedian Kevin Hart pulled out and no suitable replacement was found.
Though organizers have yet to confirm the plans, entertainment insiders say the show’s producers are forging ahead with preparations for the 91st Academy Awards on February 24 with no emcee.
As gala organizers struggle to overcome a steady decline in viewership, many say the failure to find a host is actually good news.
“It’s a blessing in disguise,” said Tim Gray, awards editor at entertainment magazine Variety. “People have been saying for years that the format — the same since 1953 — needs to change and they’re trying to cut down on running time.
“I think it is going to force them to come up with something imaginative. And the fact that the show is going to be different could keep the energy going.”
Hart, who is currently starring opposite Bryan Cranston in “The Upside,” was named to host the Oscars in early December.
But the backlash was swift — homophobic tweets he made several years ago re-emerged, prompting an outcry on social media, and he withdrew just a few days later.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars,” he tweeted. “This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.”
The previous two shows have been hosted by late night funny man Jimmy Kimmel.
Comedian Chris Rock emceed in 2005 and 2016, and TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres hosted in 2007 and 2014. All have indicated they weren’t interested in the gig this year.
“I think a lot of people, especially when it comes to hosting the Oscars … think nowadays it’s not worth accepting (to host) because of the scrutiny,” Gray said.
“It’s kind of a thankless job. There are 3,000 people, and all they want to know is who won in each category.”
According to trade magazines, organizers are also considering having multiple A-listers introduce various segments and the award presenters.