It seems nobody wants to host the 2019 Oscars.
“Until this week, the Academy’s host troubles were a private industry matter. Now everybody on Earth knows about them,” is how The Hollywood Reporter put it.
“The ceremony doesn’t happen until February 24, and it’s already in flaming-engines crisis mode.”
When Kevin Hart resigned from frontman duties after old homophobic tweets resurfaced last week – he’d been signed up to the gig for just two days – Hollywood started throwing replacement names around.
Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby was named as a contender by Variety magazine. So were old hosting hands Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris plus actors Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.
Author Stephen King went public with his own nomination: Emmy and Grammy winner Patton Oswalt (Young Adult, Ratatouille.)
The horror master was super keen on Oswalt, 49, taking the reins:
Hey, Oscar, two words for ya: PATTON OSWALT. He’a funny,sharp-tongued, and he knows film.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) December 7, 2018
King’s call was liked nearly 42,000 times. The trouble is, one who didn’t like it was Oswalt.
Tracked down by entertainment site TMZ at LAX, Oswalt kicked the can onto someone else.
Diplomatically, the actor said “of course” as a movie fan he would be interested in hosting the show. But also, not so much.
“Academy, hire Tiffany Haddish or Billy Eichner,” Oswalt said when TMZ asked for a message to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
“They’re both really brilliant and they’re ready.”
Girls Trip star Haddish, 39 (included this year on Time’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world) is the first black female stand-up comedian to host Saturday Night Live.
American Horror story star Eichner, 40, has experience with the mic: In 2013 he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for outstanding game show host and in 2014 took to the streets of New York to interview randoms with host Seth Meyers during the Emmys telecast.
Despite his chops, Eichner seems to have passed on the Oscars gig.
He endorsed Curb Your Enthusiasm comedian Wanda Sykes, then in another message joked the eventual host will need to satisfy stringent community standards.
“I will not rest until the Oscars are hosted by the cast of Love Simon, the ghost of Harvey Milk and the entire executive board of Planned Parenthood,” Eichner said.
Meanwhile, Sykes herself neatly passed the hot potato:
I think Siri and Alexa should host the Oscars.
— Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) December 7, 2018
So with just over two months to go before the 91st Oscars are held, the Academy seemingly has no frontrunner for the job.
It’s an emerging trend in Hollywood, where Golden Globes hosts Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg were finally locked last week with a month to go.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s not producer Donna Gigliotti’s fault because “it’s a gig that almost no one should want”.
Calling Oscars MC duties “show business’s most perilous assignment”, the entertainment publication said the failure rate of hosts is “enough to give even that rock climber in Free Solo vertigo”.
Because if you fail at the Oscars, you fail big time.
As The Hollywood Reporter put it, the host is up against it from the start. The job pays “only low six figures” but needs weeks of work that leaves stars open to a shellacking from a tough audience – and a smaller one.
US viewers have fallen sharply, from 43.74 million in 2014 when DeGeneres was anchor, to Jimmy Kimmel’s 26.5 million this year.
The host needs to be not just famous enough to draw ratings but also has to be funny but not tacky, topical but not controversial, and politically savvy but not too partisan, said THR.
There’s also the potential for things to go horribly wrong, from wrong names being announced to a diabolical lack of chemistry and bad scripts.
OSCARS MOMENTS THAT WOULD PUT OFF ANY HOST
The La La Land v Moonlight schemozzle
Host Jimmy Kimmel took the blame in 2017 (“I knew I would screw this show up”) but when Warren Beatty announced the name of the wrong Best Picture winner, it was the fault of a staffer who handed him the wrong envelope. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it.
Anne Hathaway and James Franco’s awful rapport
Given the joint nod in 2011, one tried too hard and one not enough. Hathaway was fake bubbly, while Franco seemed to have been given an anaesthetic that made him unco-operative.
Seth MacFarlane’s opening monologue
Just saying: The 2013 We Saw Your Boobs song that had MacFarlane perform a musical number about all the Hollywood breasts we’ve seen.
Rob Lowe’s duet with Snow White
OK, Lowe wasn’t hosting but his 1989 experience was a cautionary tale for anyone spending more than a minute on the Oscars’ stage. Three years after his singalong with the Disney princess, he told The New York Times: “I was a good soldier and did it … I got shot in the foot.”