ABC’s new programming chief has affirmed that the 91st Academy Awards will have no host, and says the contention encompassing the current year’s Oscars broadcast has really been useful for the show.
The naming and fast exit of Kevin Hart as host; an arranged however relinquished new category for well known popular movies; vulnerability about whether best-song nominees will perform; and objections about its length and declining appraisals have kept the Feb. 24 telecast in people in general eye, Karey Burke says.
“Ironically, I have found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars have kept the Oscars in the conversation,” she told the Television Critics Association Tuesday. “It’s evidence of how relevant the Oscars still are, that people are still talking about these things and caring about these things.”
Not at all like other awards shows, ABC has little authority over the Oscars in spite of a hefty price tag, as the year’s greatest trophy fest is solidly in the hold of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
All things considered, Burke strikingly anticipated that, after a year ago’s record-low 26.5 million watchers, nominees like “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “A Star is Born” will draw crowds. “We’re going to see a big turnout for this (year), because these are big popular movies that are nominated.”
No host? No problem, Burke said, suggesting that the exit of the comedian after earlier controversial anti-gay remarks surfaced – and the absence of a host for the first time since 1989 – would help speed up the show, which sometimes clocks in at nearly four hours. Potential winners were told at an Oscar nominees luncheon Monday to keep their speeches to 90 seconds.
After Hart dropped his plans to host, “it was pretty clear we were going to stay the course, that we were just going to have presenters host the Oscars and we all got on board with that pretty quickly,” Burke said. “The goal was to keep the show within three hours, so producers decided wisely not to have a host and to just have presenters.”
However, she said all best-song nominees will be performed, reversing a rumored earlier plan, though she wouldn’t confirm specifically who will sing.
“I don’t think I am allowed to say without the Academy,” she said.
And Burke conceded that “ratings for all awards shows are down,” adding that the genre “is challenged, something we have to be vigilant about (to) stay relevant at a pace and length that will bring an audience.”