It was once one of the most highly coveted gigs in comedy. Now no one wants the job as viewers at home are tuning out in droves.
The Oscars ceremony will once again go hostless, leaving this year’s white elephant of an awards show without an emcee to keep the proceedings moving. The ceremony has been moved up by nearly a month to Sunday Feb. 9, as part of organizers’ efforts to juice plummeting viewership and shorten Hollywood’s interminable awards season.
Variety reported Wednesday that Karey Burke, the head of ABC Entertainment, confirmed that the upcoming telecast will have “no traditional host” during a talk at the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour.
Last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opted to go host-less for the first time in decades. Comedian and actor Kevin Hart had been tapped to host the show but abruptly stepped down after journalists dug up the star’s old tweets.
That show featured a slew of political moments from director Spike Lee urging the audience to “mobilize” against President Trump; actress Maya Rudolph warning Trump that Mexico won’t pay for a border wall, and actress Emilia Clarke saying U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — like her Game of Thrones character Khaleesi — is “a woman who has spent her career at the forefront of the fight against gender discrimination.”
Hosting the Oscars has quickly become a job that few comedians wish to take on, due to unrelenting criticism from social media and overly censorious entertainment journalists.
The show, which usually clocks in well over three hours, is a challenge for even the most skilled comedians, requiring a light touch and an ability to find humor in what is essentially a stiff and lugubrious evening.
Ratings have fallen consistently since 2014’s high of 43.7 million viewers. In 2018, the show only managed to draw an audience of 26.5 million, its biggest yearly decline. That was the year the show was hosted by the anti-Trump Jimmy Kimmel, who feuded with President Donald Trump after the commander in chief mocked the ratings in a tweet.
Lowest rated Oscars in HISTORY. Problem is, we don’t have Stars anymore – except your President (just kidding, of course)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2018
Kimmel responded: “Thanks, lowest rated President in HISTORY.”
The telecast re-bounded slightly last year after Kimmel left, with 29.6 million viewers.