How are Oscars hosts chosen and who was in running to host this year?
Finding a host for the Oscars can be an uphill battle given some recent kerfuffles, this year however there will be three for the first time in 35 years.
The 94th Academy Awards are set to take place with all the star-studded glamour of years past Sunday 27 March with Hollywood A-listers gathering at the at the Dolby Theater. For the first time in 35 years the Oscars will have three emcees presenting the awards ceremony after going three years without a presenter.
That isn’t the only change that has been made to the Academy Awards spectacle in an effort to regain audience that has dwindled over the years. To make the broadcast “tighter and more electric” eight categories will be presented before the live telecast of this year’s Oscars ceremony. Also helming production of the gala celebrating the world of film for the first time is Will Packer, who the Academy hopes will bring a big-tent approach to the show.
Hosting the Oscars is a hefty lift even for the most talented
Hosting the Oscars is show business’ most perilous assignment. It requires weeks of preparation for the three-hour show and lately has come with scant reward becoming one of Hollywood’s least wanted jobs. No celebrity has been willing to host the show more than twice since 2004. Although Billy Crystal hosted the gala for the ninth time in 2012, that year was deemed 'the most boring Oscars ever' at the time by critics. Many have vowed never to do the Oscars again.
The producer has the job of making the show more attractive while not sparking a bonfire that he or she and the emcee will be tossed on afterward. It is up to the producer to find the right fit for the night to boost ratings while at the same time winning over numerous constituents. Then they have to convince that person to accept a salary in the low six figures, work their tail off to satisfy everyone and risk getting flayed by the critics, all for little benefit to their profile.
A downward trend in viewers
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), has been struggling with ratings for its three-hour production, which they decided to trim down this year. The show hit a high point in 1998 when Billy Crystal was the host that year and over 55 million pairs of eyeballs glued to their TV sets to watch then-box office record-setter “Titanic” win Best Picture.
Since then, the show has seen audience numbers decline as Americans have cut their cable cords and move to streaming video, while watching linear television has taken a back seat. After 2014, when Ellen DeGeneres was the host and the show drew an audience of nearly 44 million, viewership began a steady drop. Last year, due to the covid-19 pandemic the show was broadcast from several locations with winners accepting their awards from home via zoom, viewership fell below 10 million.
Controversies over a lack of diversity in the nominees, one of which sparked the #OscarsSoWhite social justice campaign in 2015, contributed to dwindling audience size. Since Jimmy Kimmel hosted in 2018, the Oscars have been presented without an emcee. In 2019, Kevin Hart, had to pull out after facing serious backlash for a number of homophobic Twitter posts from his past that were uncovered.
The 2022 Oscars will have three hosts, the first time since 1987 when Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Paul Hogan shared hosting duties. This year it will be Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes up to bat for the 94th Academy Awards. Wish them luck.