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2019 Oscars aim for "brisk" 3-hour show without a host

2019 Oscar nominations full of firsts

The 91st annual Academy Awards will officially forgo a host on Hollywood's biggest night later this month, according to ABC's new entertainment chief Karey Burke, whose network will broadcast the ceremony. The last time the Oscars went without an emcee was 30 years ago.

Burke confirmed the decision during the executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour, ET Online reports, and said the decision was "wisely" made by Oscar producers. She also mentioned that a "lack of clarity" over the ceremony kept the Oscars in the headlines.

"Ironically, the lack of clarity surrounding the Oscars has kept the Oscars really in the conversation and the mystery has been compelling. People really care," Burke said. "It's fascinating. We're going to see a big turnout for this because these are big, popular movies who are being nominated. People really care to see who is going to win."

Burke addressed the fallout over Kevin Hart quickly exiting the hosting gig in December after old homophobic tweets resurfaced. The 39-year-old comedian eventually apologized to the LGBTQ community.

"I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscars," Hart tweeted at the time. "This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past."

Reports had been swirling for weeks that the Oscars wouldn't have a host for its Feb. 24 ceremony, as Burke affirmed in her remarks Tuesday.

"There wasn't messiness beyond the Kevin Hart situation. After that, it was pretty clear that we were going to stay the course. There was an idea that they were going to have the presenters just host the Oscars," Burke said. "We all got on board with that. The main goal, which I was told, was the Academy promised ABC last year after a very lengthy telecast to keep the show to three hours. Producers wisely decided to not to have a host and to go back to having the presenters and movies be the stars, and that be the best way to keep the show at a brisk three hours."

"Roma" and "The Favourite" lead in Oscar nominations

There is a "phenomenal" line-up of presenters planned for this year's show, Burke added, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, and Daniel Craig, among others. A bevy of box office hits in the best picture category are in the running for Oscar gold, including "Black Panther," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "A Star Is Born."

It's unclear whether those popular titles will help boost the show's ratings. The Associated Press said the 2018 telecast had a record-low 26.5 million viewers, which was a 20 percent drop from 2017's Oscars. It was the first time ratings slumped below 30 million, according to Nielsen records dating back to 1974. For comparison, Super Bowl LIII, which aired Sunday on CBS, attracted some 100.7 million people on television and streaming services.

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