LOS ANGELES, CA — Funnyman Kevin Hart will host the 2019 Academy Awards, replacing Jimmy Kimmel at the center of Hollywood’s biggest night. He takes on the monumental task of trying to revitalize the awards show, which has suffered declining ratings for years.
“For years I have been asked if I would ever host the Oscars and my answer was always the same, I said that it would be the opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian and that it will happen when it’s suppose to,” Hart wrote on Instagram. “I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars.
“I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time. To be able to join the legendary list of (hosts) that have graced that stage is unbelievable. I know my mom is smiling from ear to ear right now. I want to thank my family/friends/fans for supporting me & riding with me all this time. I will be sure to make this year’s Oscars a special one. I appreciate (the Academy) for the opportunity. Now it’s time to rise to the occasion.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president John Bailey told Variety he thinks Hart will bring a new energy to the show.
“First of all, he’s a very kind of warm and loving and lovable person…He’s also wanted to do this for many years. He’s been very clear how he felt about it and that’s very heartening to us.” Bailey told Variety.
Bailey admitted it takes a special performer to pull off a night like the Oscars.
“Life is a risk. You go out on that stage and you don’t know whether you’re going to bomb or be a smash,” he told Variety. “It’s like the opening night of a Broadway play except we only play for one night.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced a series of changes aimed at counteracting the show’s sagging ratings. Among this year’s changes, will be a strict three-hour time limit for the show, which has dragged on for almost four hours some years.
Toward that end, about a half-dozen awards are expected to be presented during commercial breaks, with highlights then edited and aired later in the broadcast. The Academy had also planned to introduce a category recognizing “popular films,” but that proposal has been temporarily shelved amid questions about how it will be determined.
This year’s Oscar ceremony will be held Feb. 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Beginning in 2020, the Academy plans to move up the date of the ceremony to earlier in February.
City News Service and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report; Photo: Kevin Hart attends the WSJ Tech D.Live at Montage Laguna Beach on November 13, 2018 in Laguna Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for The Wall Street Journal and WSJ. Magazine)