Oscars: The show must go on... without a host

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LOS ANGELES — Hollywood's biggest night — the Oscars — is set to take place next month without a host for the first time in 30 years, after comedian Kevin Hart pulled out of the gig and no suitable replacement was found.

Though organizers have yet to confirm the plans, entertainment insiders say the show's producers are forging ahead with preparations for the 91st Academy Awards on February 24 with no emcee.

If all goes ahead, it would be the first ceremony without a host since the 1989 gala — one widely seen as one of the most embarrassing ever, featuring an infamous duet between actor Rob Lowe and ... Snow White.

As gala organizers struggle to overcome a steady decline in viewership, many say the failure to find a host is actually good news. "It's a blessing in disguise," Tim Gray, awards editor at entertainment magazine Variety, told AFP.

"People have been saying for years that the format — the same since 1953 — needs to change and they're trying to cut down on running time. So personally, I think it's a great idea not to have a host."

Hart, who is currently starring opposite Bryan Cranston in "The Upside," was named to host the Oscars in early December.

But the backlash was swift — homophobic tweets he made several years ago reemerged, prompting an outcry on social media, and he withdrew just a few days later.

So why can't the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences find someone else? The previous two shows have been hosted by late night funnyman Jimmy Kimmel. Comedian Chris Rock emceed in 2005 and 2016 and TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres hosted in 2007 and 2014.

All have apparently indicated they weren't interested in the gig this year. "I think a lot of people, especially when it comes to hosting the Oscars ... think nowadays it's not worth accepting (to host) because of the scrutiny," Gray said. "It's kind of a thankless job," he added.

In recent years, several hosts were raked over the coals. Actor Neil Patrick Harris got rumbled over his 2015 effort and said he would never do it again. James Franco and Anne Hathaway were a dud in 2011.

The Academy declined several requests by AFP for comment on the hosting situation or the show's possible format. But according to several trade magazines, organizers are considering having multiple A-listers — probably actors — introduce various segments and the award presenters. — AFP


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