Television landscape is changing. The allure of big gigs like the Oscars, the Super Bowl, and the White House Correspondents dinner are not attracting the major talent like they have in the past. Pundits in the industry might cry out in desperation but does the average person really care anymore? Star talent no longer want to be associated with the Oscars – and for good reason – which is a problem of the Academy, but how about the regular movie goer?
Kevin Hart was supposed to host this year but he recently quiet after an old homophobic tweet came to light. The fact is that nobody is around to replace him is telling how far show business has fallen. No longer are we captivated by Hollywood like we used to be. Streaming services show that you don’t necessarily need a big star to be successful.
Without a host, this will probably be the lowest-rated Oscars in their long history. It is the host that draws viewers, that keeps the whole oversized beast together and moving along. Without a host it will be like a film without a main character. The last time this happened was in 1989 when the opening act was a strange amalgamation of Robe Lowe and Snow White – need we say more?
You can’t say the Oscars haven’t tried to stay relevant and edgy with hosts like Chris Rock and Seth Macfalane, choices you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the staunch Academy. Then there was the bizarre paring of James Franco with Anne Hathaway but none of these seem to work to increase viewership. The real question may not be about the Oscars but how can we expect them to compete when they are battling a general decline of television viewership as more people are cutting cable and making do with streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.
At first, Hart seemed the ideal host. He is funny and could bridge the gap between an established Oscar-watching crowd yet appeal to a new generation and a new crowd. At this point, perhaps a tweet from a decade ago is the least of the Academy’s worries as Hart is one of the few hosts who had actively campaigned for the job.
As it stands, no new offers are out to replace Hart and as time goes by the chances of a host miraculously appearing seem less like. The show producers are moving forward with a broadcast that will focus on starry skits and play up a high-profile year for music in film, thanks to likely nominees Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, and Kendrick Lamar. Will this work? Not likely but we really can’t blame the Oscars for their lack of success. It would take a complete overhaul – perhaps something like Black Mirror was done with Bandersnatch, allowing the audience to choose their own movies as winners – for the crowds to come back.
The Academy might have considering welcoming Kevin Hart back if he had used the opportunity in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres to demonstrate contrition for his anti-gay jokes and recommit to hosting the show. But his sit-down with DeGeneres, a sympathetic friend, backfired when he was made out to be the victim of internet trolls, taking no responsibility for his remarks – albeit 10 years ago. If he had simply said sorry and had cleaned up his act, he probably could have regained his position, one that only he seems to want.
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