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It took longer than usual for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to announce Kevin Hart as the host for next year's Oscar ceremony. To many, this was an indication that the organization was having some trouble finding somebody willing to take the job. Now that Hart has stepped down from the role amid some controversy, the Academy is reportedly in panic mode as they attempt to figure out what to do. One solution that is apparently being discussed is having no host at all.
It's unclear exactly what the thinking is for a hostless show, but the source that spoke to Variety about the idea called it something "SNL style" that would apparently use multiple celebrities and "buzzy people" to keep the show going. Some sort of group monologue to open the show has even been suggested.
It's not entirely unheard of for the Oscars to go without a host. The 1989 ceremony didn't have one, though that show is generally regarded as being a poor one. If the show had a comedian do a monologue it would have saved the world from the opening number starring Rob Lowe and Snow White. That was a thing. Look it up.
At the same time, considering that nobody seems to want the job of hosting the Oscars, maybe trying a show without a host is the way to go. If it works, it can become the new standard and the Oscars won't continue dealing with this problem.
In recent years the host's main job has been to perform some sort of opening comedy and/or musical number. The host does some introducing of award presenters but the in theater announcer has actually done more of that over the course of the show. We'll also get a handful of comedy breaks. Most of the time it's just a joke thrown in here and there, though sometimes we'll get more. Chris Rock had man-on-the-street style interviews showing the differences in movie preferences based on race. Jimmy Kimmel diverted a tour bus and surprised the riders by bringing them to the show.
Bits like these could certainly be put together by somebody other than a host. The Oscars would need a strong writers' room to put together the ideas and find the right talent but it's certainly possible the show could find celebrities that are willing to be involved in a single musical number or comedy bit that aren't necessarily looking to host the entire show. Have the theater announcer do all the presenter introductions, and the host's duties would be covered.
Regardless of what solution is found, the Academy is running short on time. Any host they find now has that much less time to put together his or her part of the show. Any time spent looking for a new host reduces the amount of time the writers and producers will have to put together a hostless show if that ends up being the decision.
The 2019 Oscar telecast will take place on February 24.