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2016 Oscars Will Have Two Hosts: Why That Hasn’t Worked Before & How to Make it Possibly Better

“The Oscars are sort of like America’s yearly junior prom, in that we always make a huge deal about the show, and then the next day talk about how disappointing the whole thing was and think of ways to maybe make it better next year.” AV Club

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The 2016 Academy Awards will have not one but two hosts next year, producers confirm.

David Hill, who is producing the show along with Reginald Hudlin, tells Entertainment Weekly he has a pair in mind that’s already a well-known duo. (EW speculates that this could maybe mean Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Key & Peele, or Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who ended their hosting contract with the Golden Globes last year.)

“Two is better than one,” Hill joked. “Just imagine, you’re in there. One of your hosts drops dead from cardiac arrest. What do you do? Second host goes on! And you keep going. … Note to self. Check out their heart rates.”

The Oscars have only had multiple hosts a handful of times in the past few decades: James Franco and Anne Hathaway in 2011; Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin in 2010; and Chevy Chase, Paul Hogan and Goldie Hawn in 1987.

Read Hill’s full interview over at Entertainment Weekly.

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Thoughts: Why Two Oscar hosts hasn’t worked before

Whether or not Oscar co hosting works is entirely upon the chemistry of the two said hosts. Based on the history of this result, however, it hasn’t really worked out for the Academy before.

The idea of the Oscars having more than one host of the ceremony is not normally the route they go. Prior to this announcement, multi-hosting has been used in 23 out of 87 Oscar ceremonies and only 3 times in the past 28 ceremonies. The specific use of 2 hosts has only been done twice, recently back to back in 2010 and 2011. Both shows received mixed to harsh critical responses.

The idea of teaming Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin probably seemed good on paper, and I know most people had a positive reaction to the news, but it ended up rendering them both neutered. Steve Martin already proved twice in 2001 and 2003 that he could effectively host the Oscars by himself.

Martin is a comedian whose jokes are based heavily on comedic timing, and when he’s on he’s pretty spectacular at it. Teaming him up with any co-host would probably ruin his own comedic timing. Why didn’t the pairing of Martin and Baldwin work? Roger Ebert, in his commentary/review of the telecast, said this regarding Martin and Baldwin:

“The choice of hosts Baldwin and Martin, which struck me as inspired, turned out to be a miscalculation. In years past, did co-hosts alternate lines? Comic timing depends on one person’s delivery, unless we’re talking about a seasoned comedy team. The two never felt like a team, and apparently didn’t have their lines memorized, which led to tiny but fatal delays.”

However, even though the pairing received mixed reviews, the telecast did receive high ratings thanks to popular films like Avatar, and the hype around Kathryn Bigelow being the first female director to win the Oscar for Best Directing helped those ratings. Obviously, the Academy felt confident enough to use two hosts again, and in doing so for their 2011 broadcast, made one of the biggest television blunders in recent memory.

Opting for younger faces for the ceremony, Cohen and Mischer hired actor James Franco, and actress Anne Hathaway as co-hosts of the 2011 ceremony.

“James Franco and Anne Hathaway personify the next generation of Hollywood icons — fresh, exciting and multi-talented. We hope to create an Oscar broadcast that will both showcase their incredible talents and entertain the world on February 27,” said Cohen and Mischer regarding their selections to host the gala.

I agree that it certainly was an intriguing selection at the time, and with the proper writing or luck could have went well, but what happened was nothing short of a disaster.

Film critic Roger Ebert said, “Despite the many worthy nominated films, the Oscar cast was painfully dull, slow, witless, and hosted by the ill-matched James Franco and Anne Hathaway. She might have made a delightful foil for another partner, but Franco had a deer-in-the-headlights manner and read his lines robotically.” Television critic Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter commented, “In what could go down as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history, a bad and risky idea — letting two actors host — played out in spectacularly unwatchable fashion on the biggest of all nights for the film world.” He also added, “These Oscars were a bore-fest that seemed to drag on relentlessly but listlessly.” Gail Pennington of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that the ceremony “felt a little like a bad night on Saturday Night Live — awkward, slow and not particularly entertaining.” Regarding the hosts, she quipped that Hathaway “at least tried”, but she remarked, “Franco seemed half asleep, or possibly stoned.”

Ok, so the Oscars are going with two hosts, who could they pick to make it more of a success?

Unless the Academy can think of a pairing that actually ends up working out, there really is only two obvious selections. The first would be Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who have hosted the Golden Globes successfully together for the past 3 ceremonies. However, already said they have no interest in hosting the Oscars.

Another strong possibility is Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, who are very funny, and would also bring some much-needed diversity to what last year’s host Neil Patrick Harris called a ceremony honoring “Hollywood’s best and whitest—sorry, brightest.” Key and Peele have already proven that they are adept at devising comedy sketches as well, a feature the Oscars hasn’t really used effectively for a long time.

Other than those two pairings, nothing really leaps to mind unless they take a gamble, which hasn’t worked yet, so will history repeat itself?

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About Knox Harrington

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