Greeson: Start at the top when looking for Oscars host

Greeson: Start at the top when looking for Oscars host

January 10th, 2019 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

Who should host the Oscars?

Kevin Hart was the first choice, but he has skeletons in his Twitter feed, and we all know that won't do.

Hart, the everywhere comedian who has been in something like 1,200 movies in the last 12 years — heck, even James Brown would agree that Hart is the hardest-working man in show business — offended the LGBTQ community, and some other groups represented by some of the other letters, with tweets and comments from the last decade.

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

That our social media controversy hunters continually comb through everything — scouring for the worst of everyone — says more about the offended than the offender, in my mind. The interweb morality mob searches for reasons to take down others. They crave the ability to point fingers rather than self-examine. To that I say, "God Bless."

And so did Hart, who with the help of his friend and Hollywood A-lister Ellen DeGeneres, has started to recraft his public persona. In fact, Hart said Wednesday that "I'm over it" and that he's done apologizing. Some said he's grown from the incident, but since Hart's 5-foot-4, well ...

Before we go any further, how many times can or should a person apologize for something? Seriously. If we are going to start holding folks to certain standards about the number of apologies required, let's set the baseline way above Twitter miscues from comedians, OK?

So we are back to the question of the day: "Who, under the social media microscope of the here and now, is qualified to host the Academy Awards?"

In years past, hosting the Oscars has normally fallen to a comedian or tandem of jokesters. It, for a long time, was a traditional must-see event. It is a perennial top-10 viewed broadcast. That's changed; last year's ratings plummeted to alarming lows.

So who can re-engerize the Oscars? Who has the heart now?

There are reports that the Oscars will go host-less for the first time in 30 years. That makes me sad because 1) if we know anything, it's once a job is gone, it's gone forever, and 2), the two best parts of the show are the monologue and the montage of the famous folks who died in the previous 12 months.

So let's find a host, shall we?

We could start with Ellen, I guess. She checks a lot of boxes. Funny. Female. Gay. Versial, or whatever the opposite of controversial is. But she's been there and slayed that.

Chris Rock suggested Steve Martin earlier this week. Both men are hilarious, and both have done it multiple times. Plus, who knows, what could be in their closets, right? Maybe Martin refused to buy Girl Scout cookies at the supermarket table in his neighborhood.

As for Rock, well, earlier this week he told a New York City audience when asked about it, "I could say something real offensive and funny right now, but I can't do that anymore, so ... heyyyy!"

Among the early suggested replacements was someone named Tiffany Haddish, but in a stand-up routine recently she got cross with PETA by saying she was going to wear fur until cops no longer killed black people. So there's that. (In the grand scheme of things, if we are going to compare, demeaning and insulting the difficulties of policing people seems pretty extreme. But again, what do I know? I'm a heavy-set white Southern male. I am the butt of jokes, not one who can be offended by jokes.)

Gone are the days when Billy Crystal hosted nine times, and Bob Hope hosted a record 19 times, including one year in which he worked with a crew of hosts including Donald Duck. Those days are gone because those dudes knew more about glitter than Twitter, and people knew how to take a joke back then.

If Kevin Hart, age 39, steps over the entirely too fragile sensitivity line, then it costs him a chance to host the Academy Awards. But what happens if Dick Van Dyke, age 93, did it? Wouldn't we kind of shrug and say, "Oh, that crazy Dick," but not in an insulting way?

So maybe we should look for an answer in the here and now. Who is the safest target of comedy and insults? Who is the most popular piñata for the Hollywood elite?

Yep, that guy. And no, not Alec Baldwin playing the president.

Ask Donald Trump to host the Academy Awards.

It would get the highest ratings ever. It would allow the Johnny Come Funny folks wanting to take a swipe at the president at least do it in front of the man.

Let The Donald hold the mic and watch the most magical Oscars ever.

With all apologies to The Donald Duck, of course, because the previous sentence was in no way meant to offend or disregard the skills of any of the ducks interested.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.

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