It’s official: the 91st Academy Awards will not have a host.
On Tuesday (February 5), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed that the ceremony will proceed without an emcee – something that hasn’t happened in 30 years.
In a sit-down with the Television Critics Association, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said the awards show will instead have presenters share the hosting duties.
“Ironically, I have found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars has kept them in the conversation. The mystery is really compelling. People really care,” Karey 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 added.
Comedian Kevin Hart was initially slated to host the awards show, but stepped down from the gig just days after the announcement – after facing backlash when some old tweets he made back in 2009-2011 resurfaced. The tweets contained offensive remarks against the LGBTQ community.
Kevin announced his decision to step down from hosting gig last December and apologized to the LGBTQ community.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” he wrote on Twitter at the time, adding in another tweet, “I’m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”
Rumors that the award show will then proceed without a host began making the rounds, and this confirmation comes two months after Kevin’s announcement.
“There wasn’t messiness beyond the Kevin Hart situation. After that, it was pretty clear that we were going to stay the course. There was an idea that they were going to have the presenters just host the Oscars,” Karey said. “We all got on board with that.”
Last year’s Oscar ceremony ran for about three hours and 53 minutes. This year, however, the producers of the Academy Awards hope that proceeding without a host could help keep the award show’s runtime to the target length of three hours.
“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. Producers wisely decided to not to have a host and to go back to having the presenters and movies be the stars, and that be the best way to keep the show at a brisk three hours.”
Karey again expressed hope that its blockbuster and high-profile nominees will draw in a much higher viewership.
“I think we’re going to see a big turnout for this,” she said, “At no time in history have we had three best pictures nominees that grossed over $200 million at the box office.”
“I think people are wildly excited about the best song nominees,” she said, pointing to Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper and Kendrick Lamar all being booked. “We have a phenomenal music show on its own.”
While there’s not much detail on how exactly how the show will flow without a host, Karey did drop a little nugget about the opening number.
“From what I’ve heard, we have a very exciting opener planned,” Karey teased. “We are not going to go straight into people thanking their agents.”
The last time the Oscars went without a host was back in 1989, which had its share of controversies following the telecast. It also became infamous for Rob Lowe and Snow White’s opening number.
The 2019 Academy Awards will air live February 24th at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.