A source close to leadership at the Academy and ABC has revealed that Hart can return to his role as host if he shows that he wants the job. The news follows the comedian’s appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday, where Hart directly addressed the Oscars controversy over decade-old homophobic tweets that spiraled into him resigning from that hosting gig within days.
Since then, Oscar producers have grappled with finding Hart’s replacement. Though Hart apologized on Ellen, the interview prompted widespread backlash. Still, Hart is one of the Academy’s top choices, according to Variety’s insider, who also revealed that show producer Donna Gigliotti and her team have been working “non-stop” to find his replacement. Oscar producers have even entertained the idea of a cameo-heavy, hostless show, Variety reports.
On Thursday, Ellen DeGeneres encouraged Hart to reevaluate his decision, commenting that the homophobic comments he made didn’t depict the person she knows. Hart shared that he believes the criticism is coming from trolls who want to see his career suffer.
“This was to destroy me,” he said. “This was to end all partnerships, all brand relationships, all investment opportunities, studio relationships, my production company and the people that work underneath me. This was to damage the lives that have been invested in me.”
Hart again apologized for any pain his comments had caused, adding, “I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body.”
The comedian is now “evaluating” DeGeneres’ appeal to reconsider. “What we’re going to get to see on stage with you hosting the Oscars is sophistication, class, hilarity and you growing as a person,” DeGeneres told Hart. “Because most people would say, ‘I’m walking away … ’ For you to be the bigger man, for you to say I understand …and to not pay attention. There are so many haters out there.”
Meanwhile, GLAAD had this to say about the ongoing situation. “From when this news first broke, GLAAD said Kevin Hart should not step down from the Oscars, he should step up and send an unequivocal message of acceptance to LGBTQ youth that matches the force and impact of his initial anti-LGBTQ remarks,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
With the award show just over a month away, Oscar producers are now under a tight deadline. The Academy Awards are set to air February 24 on ABC.