The announcement last week that Kevin Hart would be the host of the next Oscars was followed about 48 hours later by the comedian’s announcement that he was bowing out after the Academy gave him an ultimatum: apologize for past tweets and jokes offensive to the LGBT community or lose your hosting gig. Now, the Academy is reportedly “freaking out” about how exactly to replace him.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” Hart wrote in a tweet posted late Thursday night. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
Shortly before his announcement that he was out, Hart posted a video on Instagram describing the Academy’s ultimatum, which he paraphrased as insisting that he apologize for past tweets (from around 2009-2011) or they’re “going to have to move on and find another host.”
“I chose to pass. I passed on the apology,” said Hart. “The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I’ve addressed it. I’ve spoken on it. I’ve said where the rights and wrongs were. I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’ve done it. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I moved on.”
According to Variety‘s inside sources, Hart’s abrupt resignation “blindsided” the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences and left its leadership “scrambling to find someone to take the gig.” So far, they’ve got no clue who it’s going to be, and are even considering going host-less, said the sources.
The Board of Governors plans to meet Tuesday night to discuss where to go from here, but, Variety’s sources suggest, the general mood is full crisis mode. “They’re freaking out,” a “top comedy agent” told the outlet.
“There were no contingency plans in place by the Academy or broadcaster ABC, according to another insider,” Variety reports. “The show’s producers are back to square one.”
While some have suggested tapping another late-night host, Variety says the Academy is worried about someone who might be either “too edgy” or too boring.
The insiders told the outlet that one option now on the table is a host-less Oscars, consisting of “a bunch of huge celebs, something ‘SNL’ style, and buzzy people.”
Shortly after the big reveal that Hart was hosting the Oscars, some of the comedian’s past jokes and tweets resurfaced, including one particular bit from back 2010 in which he joked that his “biggest fear” was that his son would end up being gay. “Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic,” he said. “I have nothing against gay people. Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will.”
Hart addressed the bit in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2015 in which he apologized for the comments and described them as stemming from his own insecurities rather than homophobia. “It’s about my fear,” he said. “I’m thinking about what I did as a dad, did I do something wrong, and if I did, what was it? Not that I’m not gonna love my son or think about him any differently. The funny thing within that joke is it’s me getting mad at my son because of my own insecurities — I panicked. It has nothing to do with him, it’s about me. That’s the difference between bringing a joke across that’s well thought-out and saying something just to ruffle feathers.”