Oscars to go hostless again this year

The Oscars will again go hostless.
The Oscars will again go hostless.

In Hollywood if something works, it gets a sequel. And that's exactly the case for next month's Oscars broadcast, which will again be host-free.

ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke told reporters in Pasadena on Wednesday the network would be "repeating what worked for us last year".

The development comes as little surprise after last year's hostless ceremony saw an uptick in viewers, with 29.6 million people tuning in, a gain of 12 per cent from the previous year's all-time low 26.5 million.

"With no host, it was a better, tighter, funner, more energetic show, so people may have stayed longer instead of coming in and out," former network executive Lauren Zalaznick told the Los Angeles Times last year.

At 3 hours and 20 minutes, the show was also shorter than the 3 hours and 32 minutes the telecast had averaged from 2010 to 2018.

Instead of a master of ceremonies, viewers will get "big musical numbers, big comedy and star power", ABC said.

Last year's decision to go hostless came after comedian Kevin Hart stepped down due to backlash surrounding past homophobic jokes.

Just two days after he was announced as would-be host, Hart bailed, refusing to apologise for the remarks, which he insisted he'd previously atoned for.

"I have an understanding that I've addressed it and I've said everything I can possibly say," he told Good Morning America. "So I'm over it."

Hart later said on radio he was sorry, albeit flippantly.

"Once again, Kevin Hart apologizes for his remarks that hurt members of the LGBTQ community. I apologize," he said.

In addition to the controversy, the academy came under fire last year for planning to present the awards for four categories during commercials.

The plan was abandoned but combined with a history of sagging ratings and a bloated show, the decision to go host-free again this year comes as no surprise.

However many suspect last year's success was to do with morbid curiosity as to whether a hostless Oscars could succeed.

This year's Oscars are the earliest ever, and left Hollywood with a compressed deadline to cast votes for the best in film from last year.

Balloting closed two weeks earlier than normal and many of the academy's nearly 9000 members were scrambling prior to the close of voting on Tuesday.

Nominations are announced Monday morning.

Australian Associated Press