Embracing diversity has been a major initiative at the Academy under the presidency of Cheryl Boone Isaacs, herself a black woman, so it makes sense that Hudlin and Hill might heed that call by hiring a black host. But what is fairly baffling to me is why they went back to Rock when Kevin Hart, who is fresher and hipper, was begging to do the thankless job. He starred in two of this year’s biggest comedy hits, Get Hard and The Wedding Ringer, and would have brought in more younger viewers than the show has ever attracted.
Chris Rock is a brilliant guy who might well do a fine job hosting the Oscars — nobody will be pulling harder for him to succeed than I will. And, in fairness, I’ve been wrong before about an Oscar host — I thought Neil Patrick Harris was the perfect man for the job last year, and that proved to be far from the case. But what I took away from the last three years, during which the Oscars were produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, is that the Academy needs producers and a host who will help them to grow their audience if the Oscars aren’t going to start to gradually fade away.
The core group of people who have tuned in to the show in the past will continue to tune in in the future regardless of who the host is; the problem is that their numbers are not getting larger and, thanks to actuarial realities, are actually getting smaller. The Academy, like the Republican Party, needs to expand its tent if it wants to survive. I am confident that Kevin Hart would have helped them to do that. And I’m disappointed that he won’t get the chance to prove it.
By Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter