Oscars to go hostless for the second time in its history after Kevin Hart controversy
The Kevin Hart “messiness” prompted the decision to go without a host for the 91st Academy Awards. (AP: Jordan Strauss)
The Oscars will this year be without a host for just the second time since the annual awards ceremony began in 1929.
ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said the event on February 24 (February 25 in Australia) would, “just have presenters host the Oscars”.
Speaking three weeks before the event, Ms Burke said she would hear details from the show producers later this week but said there were plans for “a pretty exciting opening” to the telecast despite the lack of a host.
ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co, televises the Oscars ceremony annually and is closely involved in planning the telecast.
Kevin Hart controversy
The Oscars host traditionally opens the ceremony with a comedic monologue focusing on celebrities, the state of the movie industry as well as cultural and political issues.
There had been conflict over who would be hosting the ceremony when comedian Kevin Hart stepped down from the role after past homophobic tweets resurfaced and no replacement was announced.
Ms Burke said the decision was taken after what she called “the messiness” over the Hart withdrawal and an attempt to revive his chances.
“After that, it was pretty clear that we were going to stay the course and just have presenters host the Oscars,” Ms Burke told reporters at the Television Critics Association meeting in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena.
Some of the “phenomenal” line-up of presenters that will host the event include Tina Fey, Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Tessa Thompson, Chris Evans and Constance Wu.
The ceremony also has box-office hits Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born vying for best picture, which could boost TV viewership.
This year’s presenters will include (clockwise from top left) Tina Fey, Daniel Craig, Constance Wu, Tessa Thompson, Chris Evans and Awkwafina. (AP)
The 2018 show drew a record-low 26.5 million people, a 20-per-cent drop from the 2017 show and the first time Oscar viewership dipped below 30 million, according to Nielsen records that go back to 1974.
last year’s best-picture winner, The Shape of Water, only grossed $57.4 million in the US.
“I have found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars has kept the Oscars in the conversation and that the mystery has been really compelling,” Ms Burke said.
“People really care.”
She called the interest proof the Oscars were still relevant.