“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, 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.
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 keep the show moving, the insiders said. A stunt like a group monologue was floated, one source added.