Except intervention of the eleventh hour, the host of the 2019 Oscars will be … tambourine, please …
While it is still possible that the Academy of Film Arts and Sciences finds somebody at the last minute, the previously announced moderator, Kevin Hart, absolutely will not keep the concert. Hart confirmed it on January 9, following a several-week fiasco devoted to homophobic tweets and jokes that he had made in the past. He was resigning in the midst of a long controversy over what many saw as his refusal to sincerely apologize for these tweets and jokes, as well as a misguided attempt by Ellen DeGeneres to help rehabilitate her. image of Hart and reinstate him as a host.
(Academy officials also said that DeGeneres, who hosted the show in 2007 and 2014, had misrepresented his conversation with an Academy official about Hart.)
In the meantime, the live broadcast of February 24 will take place in about six weeks, no replacement hosts in sight and sources close to the process have told Variety that Oscars producers are now holding a ceremony without a host for the first time for decades. Instead of a single presenter linking the show together, this work will be done by several famous presenters who will be performing all night long to present segments, distribute awards and, according to Variety sources, perform skits and musical numbers.
According to some sources, "the Avengers will also make their appearance" – which is perhaps to be expected, given that ABC, the network broadcasting the ceremony, is owned by the supreme Marvel, Disney company. .
But have unmanned Oscars already occurred? Why not just find someone else to lead the show in 2019? And is there a good reason not to use a host, even outside Kevin Hart's self-immolation?
Have there ever been Oscars without a host? Yes, and it was a disaster.
At the 61st Academy Awards, which was held on March 29, 1989, most of the evening went smoothly. Various celebrities, many of whom were real couples, presented the statuettes: Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. There were also some family deeds: Beau, Jeff and Lloyd Bridges presented, as did Donald and Kiefer Sutherland. Cher has awarded the Best Film Award, to Rain Man. Bob Hope and Lucille Ball – for whom the ceremony marked his last public appearance before his death on April 26 this year – came forward to present a musical issue entitled "I want to be an Oscar winner".
But no one served as host, starting with a monologue and assembling sections with connectivity patterns. The show just went from one bit to the other. And most things were good.
However, the musical number "I Want to be an Oscar" – as well as a much more famous issue, a disastrous start that has replaced the traditional monologue of Rob Lowe's duet with Snow White – might explain in part why an animator- The free Oscars have never been reproduced.
This is the Rob Lowe / Snow White:
In the process, Snow White travels to Hollywood, where she has been missing since her heyday in the late '30s. Upon arrival, she spends a good time at a version of the pre-Prohibition Club Cocoanut Grove, where Merv Griffin sings a variation of his hit "I've got a nice bunch of coconut", featuring various Hollywood celebrities couples sitting at tables, like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, as well as Vincent Price and Coral Browne.
Finally, Rob Lowe, his blind date appointment, is introduced to Snow. They sing and dance through an endless homage to Hollywood, singing "Rollin, rolling, rolling cameras".
It was surreal, strangely scripted, poorly produced in places (the cameras could not find where to point sometimes), and it ended with a series of dancers' choirs in the manner of a dancer. , which seemed to come out of the ordinary. Dream fever, but not in a good way. Rob Lowe absolutely did not have the range.
The skit is still remembered as an infamous disaster, Eileen Bowman, 22 years old at the time, who said she was "dropped off the turnip truck" when she auditioned for the role. . According to Bowman, she was then armed to sign a gag order.
Lowe was 24 years old and was struggling to rehabilitate his image after a sex tape involving him and two girls, one of whom was only 16, who had surfaced. Someone clearly thought that having him play a kind of prince charming would help. He continued to make fun of it in the decades that followed.
(Lowe then had a successful career, Bowman, not so much.)
After the skit, Lily Tomlin arrived on the scene and said: "More than a billion and a half people have just watched this, and right now they are trying to understand it."
And here's "I Want to be an Oscar," which was supposed to feature the "stars of tomorrow" in Hollywood, most of which have almost disappeared since (Melora Hardin, Patrick Dempsey, Corey Feldman, Chad Lowe and Ricki Lake notwithstanding):
This issue is a fuzzy mess that comes and goes, which seems to showcase the singing and dancing skills of various young starlets, except that some are certainly better than others. And, in retrospect, this sounds like a group of arrivals who ask the Academy to pay attention to them – which the Academy then deigned to do. Yuck.
After the ceremony, 17 Hollywood personalities, including Billy Wilder and former Academy president, Gregory Peck, wrote an open letter to the show 's producer, Allan Carr, declaring that the show was "an embarrassment for both the Academy and for the film industry as a whole. It is neither appropriate nor acceptable that the best work on films is recognized in such a degrading manner. "
And Carr never really got over it. He was a well-known producer, having worked on Broadway versions of The cage with follies and the 1978 film Fat, but the 1989 Oscars have so hurt his career that they are what he remembers most. His health declined, he became an addict to alcohol and drugs and died in 1999 from liver cancer.
So maybe there's a good reason for the Oscars to have a host for the next 30 years. Billy Crystal hosted in 1990 and did the job eight more times after that. Whoopi Goldberg took the reins four times and Steve Martin three times (once with Alec Baldwin as co-host). Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel have all been welcomed twice. James Franco and Anne Hathaway co-hosted a year. Neil Patrick Harris, Hugh Jackman, David Letterman and Seth MacFarlane were all welcomed once.
James Franco and Anne Hathaway host the Oscars in 2011. Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images
But now, the Oscars are about to free themselves once again from their host, but not only because of Kevin Hart's self-torpedo act. There is in fact a precedent for what happened to Hart; At the end of 2011, Eddie Murphy resigned from organizing the 2012 show when his producer, Brett Ratner, resigned after a series of inappropriate remarks, including the statement that "rehearsal is for fags". But in this case, Billy Crystal took over the role. This time, it seems that the Academy has not been able to find another person willing to accept the position.
Why? Should not the organization of the Oscars be a fun and prestigious opportunity? You can don a tuxedo or a glittering dress, tell jokes, maybe sing a song and celebrate the movies with a wide audience – what not to love?
Why is it so hard to find an Oscar host?
We can not say exactly why nobody is organizing the 2019 Oscars because we do not know who the Academy has asked for. Did he ask Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph to take back their beloved 2018 performance award song so that it would be rejected? Did Hugh Jackman call to demand a repeat of the performance and force Jackman to make a decision?
Who knows? But we can reasonably assume that at some point the Academy asked Someone & # 39; a other than Kevin Hart, and that someone (or someone) said no.
There are some reasons why a person may not want to host the Oscars. One of them is that the work requires a lot of preparation – working with a writing team to develop jokes and monologues, repeat, shoot promotional videos, maybe give interviews – and that just does not pay a lot of money. Jimmy Kimmel said he received $ 15,000 for hosting the Oscars in 2017. For stars and comedians of the same caliber as the Academy is definitely trying to hire people with a profile high enough to attract a wide audience, it's just not enough.
But there are many other reasons too. Seth MacFarlane, who has been the subject of much criticism after performing an unwise musical number called "We Saw Your Boobs" in turn as an Oscar host in 2013, said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that the concert had "all eyes on". making it a prime target for criticism.
Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron dance with host Seth McFarlane at the 2013 Oscars. Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images
"If you do something that is in the spotlight, with as much attention, as much intensity, you will have a lot of opinions," MacFarlane said. "I'm trying to think of the last time I read an Oscar review the next day, where everyone marvels – it's been a long time."
MacFarlane – the creator of Family Guy and L & # 39; Orville, movie star like Tedand a four-time Grammy-nominated singer, who idolizes Frank Sinatra – is not quite used to being "in the limelight". So it is probably not the projector itself that is the real problem.
More likely, the 40.3 million people who watched the Oscars at the 2013 MacFarlane conference were just riding Family GuyFan base. The types of jokes that might work in this context ("We Saw Your Boobs" is an excellent example) are less effective for the older audience that the Academy views as its main Oscar audience.
And as the Oscars have recently fallen (they tend to fluctuate, but the 2018 ratings are the lowest of the last 10 years), the Academy is desperately trying to find ways to increase the number of viewers. The two big moves announced earlier this year: three tight hours for the 2019 Oscars and beyond (the 2018 ceremony lasted four hours), and the creation of a category "Best Popular Film" (introduced for 2019 and almost immediately postponed to 2020) – are part of an effort to make the event live attractive to viewers.
And some media executives are still convinced that the animator is one of the main attractions of "splashing TV events" such as the Oscars. If this is the case, finding a solution that will appeal to a younger audience or to people who are not in tune with the situation would help – and this would help to sell ads, especially those intended for an audience. younger and coveted population.
But it is risky to hire someone who as well angry, in an attempt to appeal to a younger crowd. After all, the 2018 ratings were the lowest since 2008, when Jon Stewart – then a very popular animator The daily show – hosted for the second time. It's hard to imagine that it's more appealing to a 2008 audience than Stewart, but it may have been too political for some, including many older viewers.
And yet, it's not as if playing safety was a safe strategy. A "safe" Oscar ceremony that has voluntarily refrained from any social or political commentary, would prevent Hollywood from showing the world the progressive and inclusive image it wants to project – especially in 2019. And that could be exactly the kind ceremonies that young viewers would deem "irrelevant" and avoid.
Be that as it may, the idea that younger people even watch TV broadcasting seems at best uncertain in the era of YouTube and social media. Of course, the Oscars are still one of the few "event" TV shows that people love to watch live, with the Super Bowl and maybe the Grammys.
Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars for the eighth time in 2012. Kevin Winter / Getty Images
But you are not really to have watch. If you're curious about who wins, you can simply follow the winners on Twitter, grab the best clips via online video clips, and spend your Sunday night staring at something else. There is therefore little momentum for those who are already reluctant to watch the program to suddenly listen for three hours, simply because they like the host or because they want to see if Black Panther wins the best movie.
This raises an important question that the academy will test in 2019: why even to have a host?
Do the Oscars even really need a host?
The glamorous and glamorous clutter of the 1989 Oscars certainly seems to be an uplifting story for the hostless affair expected in 2019 (especially a rumor that would be based on "starry skits" and a "prestigious year for music in movies"). ). .
But there is no obvious correlation between the absence of a single master or mistress and the wreckage of a show; a data point does not create a trend line. (Sometimes shows with the hosts have done very poorly too: consider the controversial case of James Franco and Anne Hathaway in 2011, or the famous thorny Chevy Chase in 1988.)
The Oscars have experimented with several hosts in the past – in the 1970s, it was fairly common to have four hosts – and usually employ fun couples of actors to present the actual rewards. The work of the main facilitator is to open the show and provide connective tissue between trophy presentations and segments such as In Memoriam editing, often through light jokes. But with the tighter three hours of the academy in 2019, there would probably be no time for novelties, like Jimmy Kimmel, who would surprise random characters with movie stars.
In addition, there is a danger in hiring just one host (or even a pair) for the Oscars in 2019. Part of the Oscar host's job is to represent Hollywood to the whole world – to project, in tandem with the winners chosen by the Academy, how Hollywood sees himself and what he aspires for.
Most of the discussions in Hollywood in 2019 – particularly as a result of #OscarsSoWhite and the ongoing #MeToo movement – are focused on the diversity, inclusion and reenactment of a company that has long been dominated by white men and characterized by frequently exploitative and sometimes downright abusive work practices. In festivals and in behind-the-scenes conversations, in interviews and cocktails, many people are talking about expanding those who even have the opportunity to tell stories in Hollywood.
Host Hugh Jackman performs at the 2009 Oscars. Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images
Change comes slowly – Although black filmmakers' films were up slightly last year, women have actually shot fewer movies in 2018 than in 2017. But Hollywood wants you and the rest of the United States know that they want to pave the way for a diverse future. There is a good chance that the message will be more clearly communicated through a large number of Oscar presenters, rather than by one person who gets up to tell jokes.
And, in truth, the unmanned Oscars have charm, even though the 2019 edition is not going well (and even though Disney is leveraging its corporate synergy for the Avengers to make an appearance, uh , seems rather desperate, and maybe not great). Who knows who will show up? Anyway, I have to watch the Oscars because it's my job, but I'm suddenly a little more interested in how the evening goes, who will stop and what they will do. Not reading a decades-old book could result in a better television – or at least an entertaining train wreck worthy of mention for years.