Academy looks warily at Oscar host options as board meeting looms

Kevin Hart’s abrupt departure as Oscars host has left the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences scrambling to find someone to take the gig. As of now, the situation remains fluid as the group’s leadership explores options, including going host-less, individuals familiar with the situation told Variety.

The Academy was blindsided by Hart’s announced departure Thursday night, according to two insiders. The Board of Governors will convene on Tuesday night at a previously-scheduled meeting where the matter will inevitably be discussed.

“They’re freaking out,” said a top comedy agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity. There were no contingency plans in place by the Academy or broadcaster ABC, according to another insider. The show’s producers are back to square one.

Late night hosts might seem an obvious choice, given their national profiles and history with the show (think Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart and David Letterman). But the Academy is now said to be gun shy about going with someone anyone who might be too edgy or “off the cuff,” noted an industry source. Then again, going too safe could be fatal for the show’s record-low ratings — the telecast was watched by 25.6 million people in March, a 19 percent drop from the previous year.

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Celebs react to Kevin Hart Oscar hosting drama
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Homophobia is not positivity.
Instagram comment from Nick Cannon to Kevin Hart
Dear cunts in charge of The Oscars, let me host your show, and I promise I won't offend anyone. Not even Mel Gibson… https://t.co/W3N21hrCWz
Melissa McCarthy should so obviously be the Oscars host that I'm irritated having to even say it.
Ok. @TheAcademy- here you go- ME OR @IssaRae OR @SarahKSilverman OR @aliwong OR @iamsambee OR @robinthede OR… https://t.co/7GUIQ6MTGo
I’m no saint. We just wanted a little understanding, a little explanation. Apologies are tough - they leave you vul… https://t.co/FLOEGXk87s
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Another option being tossed around is not having any host at all, but rather “a bunch of huge celebs, something ‘SNL’ style, and buzzy people to throw to commercial,” the insiders said.

ABC and the Academy did not return requests for comment on their search for a new host.

The Academy had hoped that Hart would apologize for a series of years-old homophobic tweets and show signs of genuine remorse, but would stop short of actually leaving the show, said another person close to the Hart exit. The group’s leadership did believe the comic needed to do a better job of addressing the jokes, which included tweets that made light of AIDS and offensive comments about the trans community.

Hart broke his silence on Thursday with a reaction to the tweets where he spoke of personal growth but did not initially apologize. He resigned hours later, including an apology with his statement that he was stepping down. His exit came after widespread outrage from GLAAD and other individuals in the LGBTQ community.

There’s also the emotional fallout from Hart. One top talent rep wondered why the Academy didn’t more thoroughly vet the host, particularly given that Hart has been asked about some of these jokes in the past.

“My clients are bummed. They’re bummed Kevin didn’t stay the course and serve as an example. It dampens the experience, hopefully [the Academy] can pull it together so we can focus on the excitement,” said the rep.

The Academy is under pressure to solve the host problem quickly ahead of the Feb. 24 broadcast. The Hart loss seems even more chaotic given the long runway Kimmel had for last year’s ceremony: He was announced as host in May 2017.

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Inside the 2018 Oscars
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Inside the 2018 Oscars
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Faye Dunaway (L) and Warren Beatty walk onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US actress Frances McDormand delivers a speech after she won the Oscar for Best Actress in 'Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri' during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Jane Fonda (L) and Helen Mirren walk onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Host Jimmy Kimmel speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: (L-R) Actors Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell , and Leslie Bibb celebrate during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Allison Janney accepts Best Supporting Actress for 'I, Tonya' onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Jodie Foster (L) and Jennifer Lawrence speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Comedian Tiffany Haddish (L) and US actress Maya Rudolph present the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: (L-R) BB-8, actors Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill and Kelly Marie Tran speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel (L) and British actress Helen Mirren perform during the opening of the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Jennifer Lawrence attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Comedian Dave Chappelle speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Director Greta Gerwig (L) and US actress Laura Dern present the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Sam Rockwell (L) wins Best Suppoorting Actor for 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' with Leslie Bibb at the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel (C), Australian actress Margot Robbie, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o and Israeli actress Gal Gadot interact with movie goers at the Chinese theatre during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Christopher Walken speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
A general view shows comedian Jimmy Kimmel delivering a speech during the opening of the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Mahershala Ali speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actress Viola Davis arrives to present the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and actor Emily Blunt speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor Sam Rockwell accepts the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Eiza Gonzalez (L) and Ansel Elgort speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: (L-R) Actors Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Eva Marie Saint speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: In this handout provided by A.M.P.A.S., Lupita Nyong'o attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Taraji P. Henson speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Sam Rockwell accepts Best Suppoorting Actor for 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' onstage at the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Jennifer Garner speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor Chadwick Boseman (L) and Australian actress Margot Robbie present the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Recording artist Sufjan Stevens performs onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor/singer Mary J. Blige performs onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
US actor Armie Hammer (L) and Israeli actress Gal Gadot present the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Singers Miguel (R) and Natalia Lafourcade perform onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Lakeith Stanfield speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Guests and nominees attend the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
US singer and actress Mary J. Blige performs during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Lupita Nyong'o (L) and Kumail Nanjiani speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Jennifer Lawrence attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Armie Hammer (L) and Gal Gadot speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Chilean director Sebastian Lelio (C) accepts the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for 'A Fantastic Woman' during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Meryl Streep applauds in the audience the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actress Rita Moreno arrives on stage to present the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Nicole Kidman speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
US singer Miguel (L) and Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade perform during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Musician Common performs onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: In this handout provided by A.M.P.A.S., Sam Rockwell attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Filmmakers Rachel Shenton (C) and Chris Overton (R) accept Best Live Action Short Film for 'The Silent Child' from actors Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph (both L) onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: In this handout provided by A.M.P.A.S., A view of the Oscars on display at the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Emma Stone speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Matthew McConaughey speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Singer Andra Day performs onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Tiffany Haddish (L) and Maya Rudolph speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actress Allison Janney holds her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 'I, Tonya' during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Gina Rodriguez and Tom Holland speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: In this handout provided by A.M.P.A.S., Miguel attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Oscar Isaac speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal performs during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Daniela Vega speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Filmmaker Frank Stiefel accepts Best Documentary - Short Subject for 'Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405' onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Director Jordan Peele delivers a speech after he won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 'Get Out' during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark Ralston (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor/singer Zendaya speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez (L) and Robert Lopez accept Best Original Song for 'Remember Me' from 'Coco' onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actor Matthew McConaughey (L) and editor Lee Smith, winner of Best Film Editing for 'Dunkirk,' walk offstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Screenwriter James Ivory accepts Best Adapted Screenplay for 'Call Me by Your Name' onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Filmmakers Rachel Shenton (L) and Chris Overton accept Best Live Action Short Film for 'The Silent Child' onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Musician Eddie Vedder performs onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: In this handout provided by A.M.P.A.S., Laura Dern (L) and Greta Gerwig attend the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Petit/Getty Images)
Mexican director Guillermo del Toro delivers a speech after he won the Oscar for Best Director for 'The Shape of Water' during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: (L-R) Actor Helen Mirren with Oscar-winning costume designer Mark Bridges sitting on a Jet Ski (which he received as a prize for shortest acceptance speech) onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (C) stand on stage with his cast and crew after he won the Oscar for Best Film for 'The Shape of Water' during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
US actress Keala Settle performs during the 90th Annual Academy Awards show on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 04: Actors Jane Fonda (L) and Helen Mirren speak onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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