Hosts Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes will make Oscars history tonight
The 94th Academy Awards will make Oscars history on Sunday before the first trophy is even handed out during the live ceremony: Three women will host the prestigious Hollywood affair for the first time.
Actor Regina Hall and Emmy-winning comedians Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes are co-hosting the show with plans to bring their edgy humor and lots of fun to the often overstuffed ceremony.
The last woman to host the ceremony was Ellen DeGeneres, who did it to relatively rave reviews back in 2014. She also hosted in 2007.
Since DeGeneres’ second stint, organizers have enlisted Neil Patrick Harris, Chris Rock and Jimmy Kimmel. The show, which airs on ABC tonight starting at 5 p.m. Pacific, then went without a host for three years in a row following comedian Kevin Hart’s homophobic jokes scandal ahead of the 2019 ceremony.
And it appears that the show, which is being helmed by Hall’s “Girls Trip” producer Will Packer, is making up for lost time with a trio of hosts this year and a few controversial plans to boost ratings.
Only a handful of women — starting with Agnes Moorehead in 1948 and Claudette Colbert and Thelma Ritter in the 1950s — have hosted the ceremony, but always with a male counterpart or two. Ditto for former hosts Goldie Hawn, Jane Fonda, Liza Minnelli and Shirley MacLaine.
Actor-comedian Whoopi Goldberg was the first woman to do emcee solo in 1994 and had repeat engagements in 1996 and 1999. And how could we forget — as much as we’d like to — Anne Hathaway’s earnest, but widely panned, stint in 2011 with a fully checked-out James Franco?
The theme of this year’s Oscars is “Movie Lovers Unite,” a rallying cry for film fans at a time when the medium is facing an existential crisis accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s Oscars will also be the first since the COVID-19 pandemic to go on with formal emcees. And it’s happening while war is still raging in Ukraine, so there will be plenty of sobering topics to touch on between all the industry thank-yous.
Hall, Schumer and Sykes have said to “expect the unexpected,” which is hard to do with something as formulaic as Hollywood’s marquee event. In promos leading up to the gig, Schumer is cast as the most eager of the three to be part of the trio.
As the Oscars hope to stem a ratings slide, producer Will Packer discusses the controversy over this year’s changes to the show and what viewers can expect.
Sykes will no doubt lean on her stand-up background and acerbic humor. “The Upshaws” co-creator and star has also hosted a number of shows, including a short-lived talk show in 2009 and guest stints on “The View,” “The Talk” and several awards shows. She also appeared in Schumer’s 2017 comedy, “Snatched.”
Hall, who starred in the 2017 breakout comedy “Girls Trip” and in the “Scary Movie” franchise, has most recently appeared in Hulu’s “Nine Perfect Strangers,” Showtime’s “Black Monday,” HBO’s “Insecure” and the film “The Hate U Give.”
Schumer, a writer, actor and stand-up comedian, broke through with the Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer.” She’s starred in two stand-up specials, wrote and starred in “Trainwreck” and the feature comedy “I Feel Pretty.” She also starred in a Food Network cooking series with her husband and is now starring in the Hulu comedy “Life & Beth.”
‘But it’s not me producing the Oscars,’ said Amy Schumer of her wish to include Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the 2022 ceremony.
“We’re really excited to celebrate film and make fun of people, too,” Hall recently told Variety. “I was like, ‘Do you think we’re going to have friends after?’ No, we’re going to. It is one of the points of the night to be able to celebrate and for all of us to make fun of ourselves.”
Schumer had a similar thought, but also has her own ideas, including a possible tribute to Ukraine.
“There is definitely pressure in one way to be like, ‘This is a vacation. Let people forget. We just want to have this night,’” Schumer said on “The Drew Barrymore Show” last week.
“But ... we have so many eyes and ears on this show. It’s a great opportunity to at least comment on a couple of things. I have some jokes that highlight the current condition.”
To hear her tell it, Wanda Sykes plans to get loaded and maybe steal an Oscar when she co-hosts the Academy Awards with Regina Hall and Amy Schumer.
Meanwhile, Sykes pulled back the curtain on their hosting strategy, joking that if they aren’t actively onstage in the Dolby Theatre, they’re busy drinking off camera.
“We’re going to share a monologue at the top of the show, and then you’ll see us in different [set ups],” she said Monday night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” “Either we’ll be together, it might be two of us, it might be one of us, who knows?”
“To be honest, it’s like whoever gets drunk is gonna be the one that’s backstage,” she joked. “So if you see Amy and Regina out, you can just go, ‘Wanda’s drunk, she’s backstage — drunk.’”
With the Oscar ceremony’s traditions being turned upside down, it feels appropriate that the awards themselves might go their own way too. Watch for surprises.
Kimmel, of course, has hosted the show twice and revealed to Sykes that he got paid a mere $15,000 for the high-profile gig: “And there’s one of me! You guys will probably have to split that. It sounds like a lot for one night, but it’s months of work leading up to it.”
But Sykes said she’s doing it to have some fun.
“It’s not like I’m getting paid,” she quipped. “Get what you pay for. You want sober Wanda, you gotta add some more zeroes and move that comma. You’re getting Free Wanda.”
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