The Oscars are a mere three weeks away. And while we still have to get through the Super Bowl, Grammys, and amazing President’s Day mattress sales first, tension is mounting around Hollywood’s biggest night.
The situation around the host, or lack thereof, has dominated headlines and has been a cluster since well before Kevin Hard was hired then
fired quit. The Oscars and ABC usually name a host much earlier than December.
After Halloween a few of my critic brethren began whispering over our cocktails that it’s odd that no one had been named.. or even any names floated. Once we emerged from our tryptophan comas at Thanksgiving we were really shocked.
Then came the big announcement of Kevin Hart as host, which seemed a fresh choice. A Hollywood Heavyweight with tons of comic gold who knows how to work a room. Unfortunately he doesn’t know how to work social media controversies and left the gig just days later.
Next Comic Up
So, where does the show go from there? Apparently nowhere.
They could (may) have made offers to Jimmy Kimmel to return for a third straight year. That seemed the most obvious choice. But insiders have told me for months that he didn’t want to do it again. Not this soon anyway.
So with the holidays bearing down, there was hardly anytime to find anyone willing to do one of the most thankless jobs in Hollywood.
Time Is Funny
Most people don’t realize how long it takes to put together
19 hour extremely long broadcast. It takes an extremely long time. Hosts bring in their own team of writers, who work for months brainstorming ideas, jokes, skits.
Ellen didn’t go on Über Eats and order pizza for everyone on a whim during her gig. Kimmel didn’t send a production assistant out at the last minute to flag down a random tour bus. Opening dance numbers and recorded skits aren’t just set up on Saturday afternoon before Sunday’s show.
These things are well thought out, even if it may not always seem like it sometimes (see “Oprah, Uma. Uma, Oprah”). And honestly, Kevin’s hiring after Thanksgiving was essentially a last minute hire.
So now we’ll have an Oscars that will be hostless. It’s not the first awards show to go this route. The Golden Globes used to do it. The SAGs move along well with no one at the helm.
The difference is, going hostless was their first choice. They planned all along for a show to flow with no host, just a faceless announcer to introduce stars and accountants as they took the stage.
Hostless isn’t just the Oscars second choice, it’s their default option of last resort. Now producers have to figure it out on their own without the help of a host and their team. That’s not to disparage the competency of the producers. But just creating the show in broad strokes is tough enough. Now they have to be fully in charge of setting the tone, deciding how to enlarge the role of presenters, etc.
The show will likely open with a montage, then a Hollywood heavyweight with gravitas (Michael Douglas-ish) will come out to open the show talk about homophobia/me too/insert issue here, and end on something lighthearted and introduce presenters of the first award.
This could help the show move along, but I doubt it. The past few years, the hosts have been absent after the first 45-50 minutes as producers cut bits for time. Jimmy having to take the stage to sort out the Best Picture mess in 2017 being a notable exception.
Going hostless will essentially be the elephant that isn’t in the room that everyone is consciously ignoring.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Whisky. Drink enough of it and you’ll be able to hallucinate a host, and that’s probably better than the real thing.