When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first named Kevin Hart the host of the 91st annual Academy Awards, it seemed like a safe choice. A popular, sometimes-funny comedian with a successful track record hosting in Hollywood – or so it seemed.
After homophobic tweets resurfaced in December and Hart refused to apologize, the Academy was forced to play its hand and Hart stepped down from his hosting duties. Hart did eventually apologize.
Weeks of speculation ensued, as Hollywood scrambled to find a new host with the deadline fast approaching.
While the job may seem like a coveted gig to the Hollywood outsider, it’s a tough sell on the inside. The all-too-likely risk of low ratings and jokes falling flat outweigh the rewards of a successful performance.
Now, nearly two months later, the Academy finally confirmed what seemed all but certain: for the first time since 1989, the show would be held host-less. But this is show business, folks, and the show must go on!
But who will deliver the witty, celebrity shoutout-ladened opening monologue? Fingers crossed they just set a microphone on an empty stage and everyone sits in silence for five to seven minutes. Then two celebrities strut across the stage, announce the first winners of the night and off we go.
Despite the controversy, this may in all honesty be the best case scenario for the Academy Awards and its declining viewership.
Instead of following the traditional format of announcing a boring host and nominating all the expected movies hardly anyone has actually seen, this year’s ceremony has been anything but typical.
From the hosting fiasco and the surprise nominations of mainstream flicks like “Black Panther” to the controversy surrounding films like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book,” there have been no shortage of headlines this awards season.
With so much uncertainty and intrigue building for months in advance of the ceremony, at least people are actually talking about the Oscars again. By leaving so many details up in the air, people might actually tune in instead of just reading about the winners the next morning.
For a show that pushes four hours, it’s hard to convince viewers to commit that much time regardless of what’s going on, but without a host to potentially slow things down, it may be an easier sell.
Couple that with rumors of every main actor from the Marvel franchises appearing, and suddenly you’re in business. Who needs a host when you’ve got Iron Man and Captain America handing out all the hardware? As funny as they may be, there’s no way Jimmy Kimmel and Neil Patrick Harris can compete with Spider-Man swinging around the stage.
In a world where awards show ratings are steadily declining, maybe the Academy’s host-less experiment will prove to be the spark needed to jumpstart the genre’s return to prominence.
But if it were up to me, it’d be an easy fix. Forget the host, just grab the biggest names in Hollywood and let’s get this thing rolling. No more four-hour run times and lengthy transitions, we’re cranking this thing out in a crisp 45 minutes. Pair everyone up backstage, send them out, acceptance speeches must be under 60 seconds – fastest one wins a car. Suddenly it’s less like an awards show and more like a game show. Boom, best Oscars ever.
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