EDITORIAL: Why Kevin Hart Should Not Host the 2019 Academy Awards


Front Row Features

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart at the CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE press conference in 2017. CR: Angela Dawson

It’s possible that by the time you read this, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and comedian Kevin Hart may reach an amicable agreement on the comedian hosting the 91st annual Academy Awards. Hart, as you may recall, got into hot water after he announced the gig on Instagram (and the Academy confirmed it via a Tweet) on December 4, 2018. Social media subsequently blew up after homophobic remarks allegedly made by the comedian years earlier resurfaced. Hart claimed he had apologized to the LGBTQ community for his hateful comments about gays, and apologized once again, posting a video saying he had nonetheless declined the offer to host this year’s awards show. The 91st Academy Awards airs Monday February 24 on ABC.

While Hollywood watchers wondered if the Academy would name a replacement host (or hosts) for this year’s show, rumors swirled that Hart might yet host the awards show, which is broadcast to millions of viewers worldwide. Stoking that rumor, Hart, who stars alongside Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo,” TV’s “Breaking Bad”) in the dramedy “The Upside,” arriving in theaters this Friday, made an appearance last week on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, apologizing to the LGBTQ community once again and getting the support of the gay actress/comedian/talk show host. The talk show appearance—and Ellen’s support of the comedian—only served to further raise the ire of those opposed to Hart emceeing the so-called Super Bowl of movie awards shows.

Nevertheless, here are eight reasons why Hart should not host this year’s show.

  1. It’s a no-win outcome for Hart. If he and the Academy agree that he will host this year’s show, the controversy will cast a shadow over the event’s proceedings.
  2. Even past popular hosts of show, including Ellen herself, are mercilessly castigated and scrutinized by critics and viewers during the show via social media. And, there will be the inevitable Monday-morning-quarterbacking by pundits over perceived shortcomings or slights. Hart will be raked over the coals for any misstep during the show, no matter how small.
  3. His new film, “The Upside,” will be little more than a distant memory by Oscar night, February 24, regardless of how well (or poorly) the film performs at the box office. Therefore, hosting the show will likely do little to boost box office revenue.
  4. Comedians, especially edgy ones like Hart, are expected by his fans and viewers to crack jokes during the show. Hart will be forced to tone back his usual smart-alecky comebacks, making for a boring host.
  5. With less than seven weeks to go before the show, there is little prep time to rehearse and write bits that will connect with viewers. Plus, convincing Hollywood writers to join Hart might prove tricky in a town that fears retaliation and guilt by association.
  6. “Night School.” Despite opening No. 1 in its end of September release, Hart’s last comedy, which co-starred popular comedian Tiffany Haddish, suffered lukewarm box office ($77 million domestically; $102 worldwide total) and received mostly negative reviews.
  7. The chances of getting asked back to host again are minuscule. Just ask James Franco and Anne Hathaway (2011), Seth MacFarlane (2013) Alec Baldwin (2010), David Letterman (1995) or Alan Alda (1986). None were asked back to host again.
  8. Dwindling ratings. Last year’s Academy Awards telecast averaged only 26.5 million TV viewers, according to Nielsen. It was a drop of 20 percent from the 2017, and the worst viewership ever. Viewership has dropped steadily each year since 2014’s 43.7 million. The pressure to lift the awards ceremony out of its doldrums may be a fool’s errand.