After several weeks of speculation, ABC Entertainment has confirmed that the 2019 Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, will go without a host for the first time in 30 years. The decision comes after the awards show’s original host, Kevin Hart, sparked controversy in December when homophobic tweets that the comedian penned years ago resurfaced. Hart ultimately stepped down from hosting the Oscars after hearing the backlash, but a replacement was never found.
ABC Entertainment’s president, Karey Burke, received confirmation that the network is not actively seeking a new host on Tuesday during the executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour, according to Entertainment Tonight. Burke rehashed the news in a press statement, saying that the producers acted “wisely.”
“Ironically, the lack of clarity surrounding the Oscars has kept the Oscars really in the conversation and the mystery has been compelling. People really care,” the president said.
“It’s fascinating. We’re going to see a big turnout for this because these are big, popular movies who are being nominated. People really care to see who is going to win.”
She continued on to explain that when Hart stepped down, the producers began looking at alternatives to having one official host. One idea was to have the presenters collectively host the Oscars, which seemed to be the best option.
“We all got on board with that. The main goal, which I was told, was the Academy promised ABC last year after a very lengthy telecast to keep the show to three hours,” Burke explained.
Having the presenters act as the “hosts” is reportedly the best way to keep the show within its allocated time frame.
The Oscars went without a host in 1989, when producer Allan Carr opted for extra presenters instead of a singular host, according to ABC. Since then, a host has been chosen every year to provide entertainment and break up the award presentations. Past hosts include Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jimmy Kimmel, Hugh Jackman, and more.
The ceremony is likely to run a bit differently now that there is no host, but Burke was unable to provide details. She said that a producers’ meeting will be held later this week to discuss logistics. However, Burke did mention that the opening number is set to be “exciting.”
The controversy began when Hart announced in December 2018 that he would be the host of the 2019 Academy Awards, calling it the “opportunity of a lifetime,” TVLine reported.
Just two days later, the comedian’s past, filled with allegedly homophobic jokes in his stand-up routines, came back to haunt him. Many social media users began criticizing Hart and questioned if he was worthy of the hosting job. Hart did apologize but still decided to formally step down within the same week of accepting the offer.
The Oscars will air on Sunday, February 24 at 8 p.m. ET.