It’s official: The Oscars are going from Hart-less to just plain host-less. The 91st Academy Awards will be presented without the aid of a celebrity emcee, following weeks of controversy surrounding its original selection. A spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed the no-host decision on Monday.
To refresh your memory, Kevin Hart announced on Dec. 4, 2018 that he would be hosting the annual salute to cinema, calling it the “opportunity of a lifetime” and promising a “special” evening for all. But when homophobic tweets from the comedian’s past resurfaced just two days later, many began to question whether he was the right man for the job.
“Stop looking for reasons to be negative,” Hart wrote in a Dec. 6 Instagram post. “Stop searching for reasons to be angry.” After (sort of but not really) implying that he has grown and matured since tweeting those anti-gay jokes, he encouraged people to take their “negative energy” and “put it into something constructive.”
Later that day, Hart formally stepped down as Oscar host, saying, “I do not wish to be a distraction.” This came after the Academy allegedly offered Hart an ultimatum: Issue a sincere apology for the tweets in question, or forfeit the gig.
But a new year brought a new chapter to the story. Hart appeared on the Jan. 4 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which turned out to be an hourlong rehabilitation of his image, orchestrated by the host herself. Not only did she urge Hart to reconsider hosting the Oscars — after personally calling the Academy to see what could be done — but DeGeneres also belittled Hart’s critics, calling them a “loud minority” of haters and trolls.
The response to DeGeneres’ actions was largely negative, with members of the LGBT community confused as to why one of their own was so eager to overlook their concerns and side with Hart. In response to the backlash, Hart posted a vague message to Instagram about how greatness is only achieved through learning.
Hart was asked about the Oscars controversy again during a Jan. 9 appearance on Good Morning America, though he wasn’t quite as open to discussing it as he was with DeGeneres “I’m not saying how I changed anymore, I’m not saying what I’ve done and what the ‘new me’ is,” Hart said on GMA. “I’m not giving no more explanation of who I am. I’ve done it.” He also used the phrase “I’m over it” a total of 14 times.
The 91st Academy Awards will air Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8/7c on ABC. Drop a comment with your thoughts on the Academy’s decision to go host-less below.