The Academy was startled by Hart’s departure announced Thursday night, according to two insiders, reports Variety. 'The Board of Governors will convene on Tuesday night for a previously-scheduled meeting where the matter will inevitably be discussed.'
After Kevin Hart gave up the opportunity to be an Oscars host, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences are scrambling to find someone to replace him.
Variety reports that people familiar with the situation are speculating that “the situation remains fluid as the group’s leadership explores options,” including going without a host.
The Academy was startled by Hart’s departure announced Thursday night, according to two insiders, reports Variety. “The Board of Governors will convene on Tuesday night for a previously-scheduled meeting where the matter will inevitably be discussed.”
A top comedy agent, speaking on condition of anonymity told Variety that “They’re freaking out.” There were no contingency plans in place by the Academy or broadcaster ABC, according to another insider. The show’s producers are back to square one.
Late night hosts might seem as options, given their national renown and history with the show (Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart, and David Letterman). But the Academy is now said to be reluctant about going with anyone who might be too edgy (such as Ricky Gervais), noted an industry source. Then again, going too safe could be fatal for the show’s record-low ratings — the telecast was watched by 25.6 million people in March, a 19 percent drop from the previous year.
Another option being considered is “not having any host at all,” but rather “a bunch of huge celebrities, something ‘SNL’ style, and buzzy people” to keep the show moving, the insiders said. A stunt like a group monologue was floated, one source added.
ABC and the Academy did not return requests for comment on their search for a new host to Variety.
The Academy had hoped that Hart would apologize for a series of years-old homophobic tweets and show signs of genuine remorse, but would stay on as host for the show, said another person close to the Hart exit. The group’s leadership did believe the comic needed to do a better job of addressing the jokes, which included tweets that made light of AIDS and offensive comments about the trans community.
Hart broke his silence on December 6 with a reaction to the tweets where he spoke of personal growth but did not initially apologize. He resigned hours later, including an apology with his statement that he was stepping down. His exit came after widespread outrage from GLAAD and other individuals in the LGBTQ community.
There’s also the emotional fallout from Hart. One top talent representative wondered why the Academy didn’t more thoroughly vet the host, particularly given that Hart has been asked about some of these jokes in the past.
“My clients are bummed. They’re bummed Kevin didn’t stay the course and serve as an example. It dampens the experience. Hopefully [the Academy] can pull it together so we can focus on the excitement,” said the representative.
The Academy is under pressure to solve the host problem quickly ahead of the February 24 broadcast. The Hart loss seems even more chaotic, given the long time for preparation Kimmel had for last year’s ceremony: He was announced as host in May 2017.
On the other hand, Jerry Seinfeld weighed in on Kevin Hart's decision to step down as host of the next Academy Awards.
"Kevin is in a position, because he's a brilliant comedian, to kind of decide what he wants to do," Seinfeld said in an interview for "Sunday Today with Willie Geist," reports CNN. "He doesn't have to step down, but he can. And when you look at that situation, well who got screwed in that deal?"
Seinfeld further suggested in the interview, it would be hard for producers of the Oscars to find another host to replace Hart.
"I think Kevin's going to be fine, you know. But finding another Kevin Hart? That's not so easy. He's a brilliant guy with a movie career."
The 2019 Oscars will be aired on Sunday, February 24.