The search for a 2019 Oscars host has turned into what some might call an ordeal. Although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences picked Kevin Hart for the gig back in December, he stepped down less than 48 hours later amid controversy over past homophobic tweets. Since then, the position has seemed downright cursed, with no one stepping up to fill the vacancy. And now, it seems like this year’s Oscars will have no host at all.
Variety reported yesterday, January 9th, that the Academy is not expected to choose a new host before the ceremony airs on February 24th. Instead, anonymous sources told the magazine that producers will choose several celebrities to appear in short segments and skits throughout the telecast. On Good Morning America yesterday, Hart definitively said he isn’t hosting this year, although Variety‘s sources said the Academy had tried to convince him to take the job back.
The only other time that the Oscars have gone without a host was in 1989—30 years ago. Then, producers handled the absence of an opening monologue by staging an 11-minute opening number instead. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the ceremony isn’t exactly remembered fondly; in an open letter published after the fact, 17 Hollywood “elites” referred to it as “an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire motion picture industry.” (Hopefully the 2019 awards won’t follow in 1989’s footsteps.)
As Vanity Fair notes, several celebrities—including Oprah Winfrey, Patton Oswalt, Steve Harvey, and Emily Blunt—have publicly said they did not want to host this year’s show. Some, like Harvey, expressed concern about the scrutiny the role would place on their past—especially after the controversy surrounding Hart’s selection. Others, like John Legend, have called it a “thankless job.” As The Hollywood Reporter points out, Oscars ratings have taken a nosedive in recent years, and hosts are expected to be political without offending—a delicate line to walk.
That being said, Twitter still has some last-minute suggestions.
We’ll just have to wait and see how this all goes down come February 24th.