Once upon a time, hosting the Oscars seemed like a comedian’s dream gig. Now, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences can’t find anyone to take the job.
Gone are days when you could get Billy Crystal to crack a few gentle industry jokes in between awards. Now, with declining ratings, higher stakes, and incredibly low pay, nobody wants to host the Oscars.
Jimmy Kimmel revealed that his pay last year was $15,000. Kimmel and his team worked for weeks to craft jokes that would get a few laughs without upsetting any of the famous names in the room or the advertisers.
Popular two-time hosts Hugh Jackman, Ellen DeGeneres, Crhis Rock, and Jon Stewart have reportedly said “thanks, but no thanks” to the job.
Initially, the Academy tapped comedian Kevin Hart for the role of hostmaster extraordinaire. Hart abruptly dropped out after critics dragged him on Twitter for old homophobic tweets.
“I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” Hart wrote. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
According to inside sources at Variety, the Academy didn’t have a backup plan and is “freaking out.” The board of directors met yesterday to figure out their next move. Suggested fixes include a Saturday Night Live inspired series of hosts for the show–or possibly going entirely hostless.
The last time that happened, in 1989, we ended up with Rob Lowe and Snow White in the most surreal and off-putting musical number ever recorded.
Maybe the Academy’s real problem isn’t that they can’t find anyone to host the Oscars. Maybe their problem is a lack of relevancy. The annual awards extravaganza feels more out of touch every year. When they try to be cool, like when they hired James Franco and Anne Hathaway in 2001, they fail miserably. And when they try to be edgy, as with Seth McFarlane’s 2013 disastrous musical number “We Saw Your Boobs,” it’s even worse.
If the Oscars wants to recover from the nearly 20% drop in ratings last year, they need to figure something out soon. The telecast is scheduled for February 24, giving whoever ultimately accepts the job a dangerously short time to prepare.