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After the longest period before the announcement of an Oscars host in recent memory, show producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd have chosen ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel to host the event for the first time.
The official announcement, to be made shortly, comes after a long and nail-biting wait. De Luca and Todd as producers was also a very late announcement so the trio has their work cut out for them with the awards show just two months away. ABC brass had been pushing for Kimmel for months but it had all but seemed that he was out of the running until he wasn’t. In August, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences formed a new deal with ABC, which will see them shell out $75 million a year to broadcast the Oscars through 2028. As part of the agreement, ABC got more creative input on the show, including the choice of producers and host, although the Academy had final say.
Kimmel is no stranger to awards show hosting, he’s hosted the 2007 ESPYS and the American Music Awards on ABC five times and emceed the Emmys twice, to very good reviews. Kimmel’s post-Oscar special Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars was also a generally successful show.
One consideration the producers probably looked at closely is ratings. The Oscars are traditionally the highest-rated awards show, and rightfully so. But last February’s show, hosted by Chris Rock, brought in just 34.3M total viewers, an 11-year low for the telecast. This is why, to me, Kimmel is an odd pick. His most recent Emmys gig was the lowest rated ever. It can be argued that a lack of blockbuster-type films nominated for Best Picture leads to lower ratings. Also, some films nominated remain in limited release even up to the show itself so and the audience has little or less investment. In contrast, the years Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won the telecast had killer ratings.
Another other consideration I believe De Luca and Todd took into consideration was how, and with who, to move forward in a post-Trump election. With the majority of Hollywood in the Clinton camp, the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump on January 20th will likely cast a pallor over the ceremony and they were probably looking for someone safe and genial, able to make jokes and create an atmosphere of togetherness. They will also have to contend with two years in a row of all white acting nominees but this year appears to be quite a turnaround; not only a large amount of likely non-white nominees but non-white frontrunners to win have emerged. We’ll see how that shakes out when Oscar nominations are announced on January 24th.
The 89th Academy Awards will air on ABC on February 26th, 2017.