After comedian Kevin Hart stepped down from Oscar hosting duties in the wake of homophobic tweets, sources say the Academy, with no contingency plan, is “freaking out” trying to find a new emcee for the night, even floating the possibility of doing a host-less Oscars altogether.
So why is Oscar host proving to be such a difficult role to fill? Seth MacFarlane—currently captaining the comedy-drama The Orville—has some insight. MacFarlane hosted the ceremony in 2013, trying to achieve an edgier tone (including a song about seeing actresses’ boobs in a meta-bit about ruining the ceremony) that was met with mixed reception.
“Look, it’s a gig that has all eyes on it,” says MacFarlane. “And when you’re doing something that’s that much in the spotlight, with that much focus on it, that much intensity, you’re going to have a lot of opinions from a lot of people. I’m trying to think of the last time that I read a review of the Oscars the next day where everyone is raving about it—it’s been a long time.”
Hosting can be a no-win scenario, the entertainment equivalent of Star Trek‘s Kobayashi Maru. “The thing about award shows in general is, it’s kind of a dusty format,” MacFarlane says. “It’s a format that’s about as current as the 1950s variety show format. There’s always an effort to make it interesting and exciting to viewers who are used to a very different entertainment landscape in the modern era, and it’s often times fitting a square peg in a round hole. So it’s not an easy job, and I’m not surprised that they have a tough time finding takers.”
Still, MacFarlane concedes, “It’s fun! It’s a fun gig. I’ll tell you that much.”
If the Academy decides to go with a host after all, we have a few suggestions.