The 91st annual Academy Awards will go ahead later this month without a show host, the Academy confirmed on Tuesday (5).
The show on February 24 will instead highlight the presenters, as the Academy and network ABC aim to keep the telecast to a trim three hours.
The move comes after actor and comedian Kevin Hart stepped down as show host in December after old homophobic tweets resurfaced. Last month Hart flirted with the idea of reevaluating the role when encouraged to return by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, eventually opting to stick to his decision.
The matter created confusion and on Tuesday ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke sounded an upbeat note as she said the lack of certainty had kept the Oscars in the conversation. “The mystery is really compelling,” Burke told the Television Critics Association press tour. “People really care.”
Burke added that the goal was to keep the show to a “brisk” three hours, in contrast to the 2018 show that ran to three hours and 53 minutes and attracted 26.5m viewers – the lowest in the telecast’s history.
When asked how the show would begin, the executive said it would not be with an award, and said she understood it would kick off with “a very exciting opener.” Lady Gaga, co-nominated for best song for ‘Shallow’ from A Star Is Born, is confirmed to perform the song at the show with co-star Bradley Cooper.
The Oscars have aired without a host on several occasions, most recently in 1989 when Rob Lowe performed an infamous opening musical number with Snow White, produced by Grease producer Allan Carr.