Movies sometimes have happy endings but it wasn’t to be for Kevin Hart, who coveted and got the job as master of ceremonies for the Oscars, moviedom’s biggest night, but bowed out over his anti-gay postings and comedy routines from 10 years earlier. His resignation had all the drama of an Alfred Hitchcock movie with the protagonist weighed down by his youthful past indiscretions while trying to overcome them.
Hart was named host of the 91st Academy Awards on Tuesday but by Thursday night, he had stepped down as anger grew among some over his anti-gay postings and comedy routines. Hart said he made the statements when he was much younger, saying he had changed his views.
“My team calls me, ‘Oh, my God, Kevin, everyone’s upset by tweets you did years ago,'” he said in a video. “Guys, I’m nearly 40 years old. If you don’t believe people change, grow and evolve as they get older. I don’t what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify the past, do you [sic]. I’m the wrong guy, man.” Hart is 39.
Hours later, Hart appeared in another video in which he charged that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences demanded an apology or they would find a new host.
“I choose to pass on the apology,” said Hart, the comedian and actor from Philadelphia. “The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on, and I’m in a completely different place in life.”
Less than two hours later, Hart announced that he was stepping down as host of the Oscars on Twitter. He also apologized.
“I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past,” wrote Hart, adding that he did not want to be a distraction on Hollywood’s biggest night.
It’s not clear who will host the Oscars which will be broadcast February 24 on ABC-television. The Hollywood Reporter, a trade newspaper, reported the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has had trouble finding a host. With three months to go before the broadcast, the Academy hadn’t found anyone who wanted the job until Hart accepted.
After Hart was named master of ceremonies of the Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel, who has hosted the show for the last two years, congratulated Hart with a text. “Congratulations amigo – @The Academy made an excellent choice. You are going to kill it,” Kimmel wrote.
The airing of the Academy Awards is a big night on television but not as big as it used to be.
In 2018, the Oscars had a television audience of 26.5 million, down from 33 million in 2017 and way down from 43.74 million in 2014, when Ellen De Generes, who is a lesbian, hosted the show, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Academy officials have promised that the upcoming show will not run over the three-hour broadcast schedule. The show has gone overtime in previous years. Many in the audience at the event and in the television-viewing audience find the show too long and experience intervals when the show drags.
Hart would have been fourth black person to host the Oscars. Other African-American hosts have included Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg and Chris Rock.
In his successful movie career, Hart has starred in the blockbuster movies “Night School” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” It is not clear how this latest incident will affect his career.