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The 2019 Oscars hosting saga has reportedly come to an end. There will be no host for the 91st Academy Awards. At least, that’s what the story is at this point in time — but after over one month of back-and-forth reports regarding the matter, it’s hard to believe that any conclusion is actually final.
The decision comes after over one month of will-he-won’t-he deliberations with Kevin Hart, who was originally tapped to host the ceremony. Let’s take a look at the long road we took to get to this place.
Tuesday, December 4
It all started on December 4, when Hart announced that the dream he had spoken about for years was finally coming true: He had been asked to host the Oscars. “I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time,” he wrote on Instagram. “To be able to join the legendary list of host[s] that have graced that stage is unbelievable.”
He closed out the announcement by promising, almost ominously, to make this year’s ceremony “a special one.” Somehow, I don’t think what came in the hours that followed is the brand of special he had in mind.
Wednesday, December 5
By the following morning, Hart’s past had already come back to haunt him. Literally overnight, people had dug up soundbites from stand-up routines, excerpts from his book, and tweets revealing problematic standpoints and behaviors regarding LGBTQ and women’s issues from roughly a decade earlier. Some critics even went as far as labeling Hart homophobic.
Thursday, December 6
Hart soon felt the pressure of his resurfaced, now-viral words, although rather than listen to the criticism and respond to it, at first, he posted a video on Instagram to express his disinterest in the troll mentality.
“Guys, I’m almost 40 years old. If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in the position where they always have to justify and explain their past, then do you. I’m the wrong guy, man,” he said. “I’m in a great place. A great, mature place where all I do is spread positivity. If you’re not doing that, you’re not on my page.”
But the bad news kept on coming for the comedian. Hours after posting that video, he posted another, but this time, he took a very different attitude from the soft, black-and-white, shirtless video he shot in bed.
This time, Hart was posting to tell the world that the Academy had called him with an ultimatum: Apologize for your past, or lose the gig. “I chose to pass. I passed on the apology. Reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times,” he said, before further asserting that he’s explained and apologized many times over the years.
That night, he followed up the video with a statement on Twitter formalizing his decision to step down from hosting the Oscars “because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists.” He apologized to the LGBTQ community specifically, then, in a second tweet, wrote, “I’m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart.”
In the days that followed, the news cycle was filled with celebrities offering their opinions on the ordeal (some defending and others condemning), think-pieces on who should host the Oscars, SNL jokes about the debacle, and one poignant bit of insight from 2013 host, Seth MacFarlane, who noted the thanklessness of the job.
“Look, it’s a gig that has all eyes on it,” MacFarlane told Entertainment Weekly. “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.”
Monday, December 10
At the same time, behind closed doors, the Academy was reportedly reeling from the Hart-break. Variety reported that the body was “blindsided” by Hart’s decision to step down. When they issued the ultimatum, they had apparently hoped Hart would offer a sincere, public apology and stay on board. Now, they were left scrambling as the rest of Hollywood prepared for their annual end-of-year holiday break.
Monday, December 31
After a few quiet weeks, a glimmer of good news surfaced for those who still harbored hope for a reconciliation. Spotted, a celebrity data and research firm, revealed that following the backlash, Hart’s reputation had been faring OK.
According to Variety, his overall approval rating — basically, his likability — didn’t fall as far as most celebrity ratings do following a scandal, and in those few weeks since his apology, he had already recovered about half of the likability that he had lost. Spotted CEO Janet Comemos called Hart’s ability to rebound “uncanny.”
Friday, January 4
Exactly one month after he had announced the hosting gig, and after adamantly saying he was “done” with that dream, Hart found himself in the spotlight once again — this time, all thanks to Ellen DeGeneres.
While appearing on The Ellen Show, after getting a full recap of what happened, DeGeneres revealed her support for her friend, noting that she’d called the Academy to see if there was anything anyone could to do get Hart his gig back, then proceeded to convince Hart to reconsider his decision to step down.
“You have put a lot of things on my mind. I know where our relationship stands, so leaving here, I promise you I’m evaluating this conversation … Let me assess, just to sit in this space and really think — and you and I will talk before anything else,” Hart promised.
And right on cue, Variety reported that the Academy was open to having Hart back, if he was willing to come back.
Wednesday, January 9
After a few days of public apologies and public assessment of his Ellen appearance, Hart appeared on Good Morning America and gave the final word on his Oscars hosting saga: “No.”
Not long after the interview with Michael Strahan aired, Variety reported that the Oscars are going host-less for the first time since the 1989 ceremony, calling the notion that Hart might still return “100% dead.” Rather than have a singular host, this year’s ceremony will rely on a series of presenters to carry the show.
And it is with cautious optimism that we end the saga here — but who knows what can happen before the Oscars roll around on Sunday, February 24.