While doing a quick search online to find any news regarding the host for the upcoming Oscars telecast, I happened upon Pete Hammond’s always well-researched column on the Oscars. He talked to Academy President John Bailey about the some of the controversial changes proposed by the AMPAS board. Bailey tells Pete he thinks the the awkwardly named “Popukar Movie Category” failed because it wasn’t explained properly (I agree — in knee-jerk Twitter land you have to be very specific or issues can quickly turn into a garbage fire. That someone tossed gasoline on. When the Santa Ana winds are blowing.) Bailey thinks the idea is probably dead. All that Academy members need to do is include some popular movies in Best Picture (which means several hundred need to pick one as their first choice for Best Picture of the Year) and the conversation will be settled. At least for a little while longer.
In terms of broadcasting some of the category winners in condensed segments instead of airing them live — his answer was interesting. Here is how Pete wrote about it:
When it was announced in August, I wrote that it was like Richard Nixon opening up U.S. relations with China: No Democrat could have gotten away with it. He agrees that it probably took someone like him to make the case, and the Cinematographers led the way in arguing for this change by showing how it could be done. Bailey’s co-Governor in the branch, in fact, cut together an example of what it would look like and convinced other board members that it actually was an improvement, without losing any of the dignity of the presentation or downgrading it. The categories that are most affected would be rotated each year, and it hasn’t been decided which ones would be first. Bailey said it is possible that Cinematographers and Film Editors (his wife and fellow board member Carol Littleton is an Editor) could be among those leading the way. AMPAS is waiting to bring in a new Oscar show producer before deciding on how this will be accomplished.
No word yet on who will host the Oscars, but, says Pete:
Certainly there is precedent for that in Oscar’s 90-year past, where some producers opted for a “Friends of Oscar” approach to the hosting job. However, perhaps in an effort to keep the Oscars politics-free, Bailey says it likely will not be a stand-up comedian. I am pretty sure this rules out the host of the past two shows, Jimmy Kimmel, who also is an ABC star and that is the network that airs the Academy Awards. However, it wouldn’t necessarily rule out comedian Ellen DeGeneres, whose past two Oscar hosting gigs were ratings successes. Time will tell.
It’s a tough road for the Oscars to go down. They have taken a firm side as part of the resistance, in opposition to Trump and thus, in opposition to half of the population of potential viewers. How to remedy that? Well, try to distance the show from the news cycle so that the jokes won’t all be political? Is there a Billy Crystal in the house?
I always thought Ellen DeGeneres was the best host, right behind Crystal. She was able to breeze over serious stuff, tell funny jokes and do that Ellen thing where she makes everyone feel welcome. However, she, like everyone else, has joined the fight to resist Trump.
My question to you, Oscar watchers, are there any names you can think of that would make great hosts and not tank the ratings? Do you think it’s a problem to be “too political?” Or do you think the Oscars are now and forever political so why not just revel in it? Also, what choice won’t leave Twitter in a twist about the decision? How bad could it get if they picked someone who either isn’t overtly left, or isn’t a “woke” enough choice? I do not know these things. My guess is that the host, just as in politics, will rely on old-fashioned charisma to overcome complaints.
If I had to pick – here are my top five choices for Oscar host, leaving out Ellen for the time being:
1. Tiffany Haddish and Queen Latifah
2. Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armistan as their Portlandia characters.
3. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin…because why not.
4. Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig as a variety of their funny characters
5. Will Farrell – I know he’s overtly political but he’d still be funny.
I really had a hard time with that one. Let’s see if you can do better.