It’s official — the 2020 Academy Awards will have no host. Karey Burke, entertainment president for ABC, the network that carries the Oscars, confirmed the decision during her executive session at TCA.
“Together with the Academy, we have decided there will be no traditional host, repeating for us what worked last year,” Burke said. “[It will have] huge entertainment values, big musical numbers, comedy and star power.”
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The 2019 Oscars went host-less by necessity, not by design, when Kevin Hart withdrew two days after being named to the job over controversial decade-old tweets, and efforts to get him back failed. The Academy and ABC forged through with no host for the first time since 1989, betting on big-star presenters and big moments instead.
The setup worked — a Queen medley followed by a set of “not hosts” Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph got the 2019 ceremony off to a hot start, with the Lady Gaga-Bradley Cooper performance of “Shallow” providing that “moment” Oscar producers dream about.
Having Fey and Poehler — major stars and accomplished hosts, having emceed the Golden Globes three years in a row to strong reviews — was a key ingredient to the host-less 2019 Oscars’ success.
As Deadline reported last month, The Academy was believed to be following a similar blueprint for the 92nd Academy Awards, going after top entertainers to give the show the burst of energy a good opening monologue by a host provides.
The more streamlined 2019 ceremony, which was 30 minutes shorter than the 2018 telecast, saw a 12% uptick in viewers and 13% in the adults 18-49 demo over the 2018 show hosted by Kimmel, which had hit an all-time low in total viewers.
“We’re extremely proud of how the show turned out creatively,” Burke said in May, hinting that the network is OK if the Oscars go without a host again in 2020. “We’re not messing with that format, to the best of our abilities.”
She once again praised last year’s telecast today. “It was so entertaining, it was filled with surprises, it was tight, and I think you saw the results of that with the ratings being up by double-digits,” she said.
Burke added that the network “felt lucky to have had such great movies being nominated” last year but “we are feeling that we are going to have a slate that is as commercially strong again this year, which is why we feel very confident in this decision.”
There a lot of popular movies in Oscar contention this year, including Joker, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood and The Irishman. And a slew of A-list actors are getting awards attention, which could make for a star-studded list of presenters.
Burke said that the decision will be year-to-year based on what movies are in the running.
Possibly fueled by curiosity and Hart’s highly publicized exit, the host-less Oscars did well in February. But when the Primetime Emmys went the same route in September, ratings sank to a low.
There was chatter earlier in the fall that the Academy was exploring returning to a hosted format, with Hart and Tiffany Haddish’s names being floated as possibilities, but that did not seem to get a lot of traction. Hart had turned down previous overtures, and he is still recuperating from a major back surgery after a car accident.
“We did consider” going with a host, Burke said. “There was a lot of conversation which way we are going and maybe there may be a day when we decide to have a host again but the focus has been on most entertaining show.”
The 2020 Oscars producers, Stephanie Allain and Lynette Howell Taylor, are also facing a compressed time table, with a shorter awards season leading to a February 9 date for the Academy Awards live on ABC.
The Academy Awards ceremony is controlled by AMPAS. ABC, which pays a lot of money to broadcast it until 2028, can give advice and make recommendations, and has done so recently — including an insistence to keep the show to 3 1/2 hours. (It clocked in at 3 hours, 23 minutes this year vs. 3 hours, 53 minutes the year before.)
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