After weeks of speculation, it seems as if the 2019 Academy Awards will not have a host this year. According to Karey Burke, entertainment chief at the ABC network, the decision was made to limit the show’s running time to three hours.
It should be noted that comedian Kevin Hart was named as host back in December, but due to controversy surrounding several of his old homophobic tweets and jokes that had recently resurfaced, he backed out. He did state that he was reconsidering accepting the hosting gig again when he appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show, but he has since backed out again.
It would seem that the 2019 Oscars ceremony has been surrounded by controversy, and not just because of the lack of a host. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has considered altering the format of the show even further this year when they decided that only two of the five songs nominated for Best Original Song would be performed. The Academy has since reconsidered this change and has said that there will be performances of all five songs. Each performance will only last 90 seconds to prevent the show from running long. There have also been rumors that awards for some of the more technical categories such as best cinematography would be awarded during commercial breaks to maintain a manageable running time.
Seeing as how hosting the Oscars ceremony has gained a reputation of being the least desirable gig in Hollywood, it isn’t surprising that nobody else has stepped up to emcee the event. It is certainly a break from tradition, however. During the 91-year history of the Academy Awards, the show has gone without a host one other time. That was in 1989, when Rob Lowe and an actress dressed as Snow White opened the show with an awkward musical number that left the audience disgusted. Needless to say, it was a disaster. There is no telling whether or not we will see something similar this year, but not having a host is clearly not a good sign. The Kevin Hart situation has been described as “messy,” and it’s understandable why the Academy wanted to avoid too much controversy, but time will tell if this was indeed the smartest move.