It’s the worst job in show-business and before anyone cuts in, I’m well aware that fluffers exist. And more to the point, I think it might be easier to find people to be fluffers than an Oscar host considering the Academy is strongly considering running the show without a host next year.
So it begs the question: Why is it so bad? I obviously don’t have any personal experience hosting the biggest night in Hollywood, but a lot of the former hosts have spoken over the years about what makes hosting the Oscars one of the least desirable jobs in the business.
For the record, I actually didn’t mind MacFarlane as a host. Not great, but not bad either (he beats fucking James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting, that’s for goddamn sure). And to be fair, MacFarlane actually enjoyed the actual hosting itself. What he hated was preparing for it. In
an interview conducted before hosting, he said:
“I’m thrilled to have done it, assuming I get out of there in one piece but I really think this is a one-time thing for me. I just don’t like working 150 hours a week.”
While we’re on the topic of MacFarlane, let’s talk about Jon Stewart for a second. These two are actually more related than you’d think, mostly because the quotes we have from Stewart about hosting the Oscars come from an
interview between Stewart and MacFarlane. Now, MacFarlane sounds like he kind of enjoyed his time, Stewart isn’t as thrilled about it, especially since he hosted it twice.
“I [hosted the second time] because they thought, like in golf, ‘Boy that first shot sucked, do you want to hit again?’” He then went on to bluntly say, “It’s the worst job in the world.”
Another two-time veteran of hosting the Oscars, Chris Rock just couldn’t stand having to deal with a crowd of celebrities. Taken from an
interview in 2005 on David Letterman:
“I’m just kidding around, but these actor types, who the hell do they think they are? … I held back. I was nice, you know? I didn’t lay a glove on them. The Oscars, do they mean you’re great? Because some have them and some don’t. It doesn’t mean you’re great just because you have an Oscar. Martin Scorsese doesn’t have an Oscar, but Kevin Costner has two.”
*Scorsese finally has an Oscar after making
The Departed in 2006
So, I’m not going to lie, I totally forgot that Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin hosted the Oscars together in 2009. Most of the complaints from previous hosts are a bit vague (“It’s hard, it’s a bummer, etc.”), but Alec Baldwin’s interview with the
Hollywood Reporter gets down to brass tacks and reveals a simple problem: The gig doesn’t pay enough:
“They don’t pay you any money; the Oscars pay you like chicken feed. It’s all about the honor of helping to extol film achievement. But they’re going to have a tough time. I’m dying to see who they get do it next year. They’re going to have to go dig someone up from a cemetery. They’re going to have to go dig up Bob Hope.”
Kimmel has been the host for the last two years (though, he’s obviously not returning for 2019), but in an interview with
Deadline, his only problem with hosting is getting caught in your own script: “The worst trap you can fall into as the host of any award show is being locked into your script. That’s when tone deafness occurs. You have a joke planned and then you’re following some moving performance or something sad that just happened, and yet you march ahead with the plan and don’t pay attention to what preceded it. I’m very conscious of that.”
Oh, and Kimmel did mention his salary to
Variety. Apparently he was only paid $15,000 to host, so I’m sure that has something to do with him not returning for 2019.
Neil Patrick Harris
Say what you will about Neil Patrick Harris, but the man knows how to host a show. Or, at the very least, has hosted so many different awards shows that you’d think the Oscars wouldn’t even make him break a sweat. After his interview with
Variety in 2015 after he’d done it though, that’s clearly not the case:
“I don’t know that my family nor my soul could take it. It’s a beast. It was fun to check off the list, but for the amount of time spent and the understandable opinionated response, I don’t know that it’s a delightful balance to do every year or even again.”
*Note, Harris has hosted the Tony Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards, both multiple times, if he can’t deal with the Oscars, no one can (in theory)
Okay, first things first: Who the hell is Bruce Vilanch? Well, he’s a joke writer for the Oscars, and he’s been around for a while. In a 2011 interview with
The A.V. Club, Vilanch revealed the basic problem with hosting the Oscars. People lose:
“I’m always fond of telling hosts at the Oscars who are doing it for their first time, for everybody who wins, there are four people who don’t. As the evening wears on, the room fills up with losers, and then they are bitter. They are not interested in any joke you have to say; they just want to get to the bar, or they want to get their phone so they can begin firing people. It’s unfortunate. You feel the air go out of the room as the evening wears on, because a lot of the people who were there came with very high hopes, and they no longer have them.”
Before we get to what Letterman had to say about hosting, let’s hear what Bruce Vilanch, who wrote jokes that year, had to say in an interview with the
New York Post:
“He was having a horrible time anyway. He kept saying he felt like he was in a hostage crisis.”
If you’re not aware, Letterman’s hosting was legendarily bad, something he was aware of as it was happening. He reportedly told Chris Rock:
“You’re just trying to have some fun… What I had to do was go down a list and apologize to people who had their nose out of joint or something I had screwed up at the Academy Awards.”
This all begs the question: Is there anyone who has anything good to say about hosting? No. But, Ellen DeGeneres is one of the more successful modern hosts, and she has some solid advice about hosting that she gave in an
ABC News interview in 2014:
“I should be good enough that people talk the next day and say, ‘She was great,’ but I shouldn’t stand out enough that it overshadows anything. It’s a very delicate balance of being a good host.”
Again, she’s considered one of the “good” hosts, and they couldn’t get her back for the 2019 show.
So, the best case scenario you can hope for from hosting the Oscars is that you don’t stand out, and the worst case can end in having to go down a list of phone numbers apologizing to individual celebrities.
What a glamorous job.
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