Next Oscar Host Could Be Kimmel: Report

Jimmy Kimmel in black-tie on his special show that aired after the Oscars last Sunday night on ABC (Photo: ABC)

The ink is barely dry on all the post-Oscar commentary about Seth MacFarlane’s hosting abilities (some pro, but a lot con), and officials are already talking about next year’s host.

The name they’re mentioning: Jimmy Kimmel.

That’s the word from a New York Post story that says Kimmel “is already being lined up” for the host role. Why? Because he’s evolving into ABC’s biggest star, and the network is contracted to air the Oscars at least until 2020.

Plus, ABC will stop at nothing to propel Kimmel into the top spot in late-night TV. It makes perfect sense that the network would push him to host the show.

In fact, if this happens and Kimmel is successful in garnering post-Oscar praise from critics, viewers and movie-industry luminaries attending the show in person, then we wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Kimmel emerges as host of the show for consecutive years.

Such a scheme would create stability in the Oscar hosting position. Believe it or not, despite the fact that the job is one of the most high-profile gigs an entertainer can get, fewer and fewer of the entertainment world’s top personalities seem willing to take it on. That’s because they know that no matter how hard they try to please everyone, they’ll likely come in for harsh criticism on the morning after.

Watch this Oscar-ready comedy bit from Kimmel’s “After the Oscars” special:
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But Kimmel is the kind of personality who could pull it off. He’s worked hard and successfully to establish relationships with Hollywood’s movie-industry A-listers, but at the same time, he’s not one of them — which positions him perfectly for the host’s role.

While quoting sources who insist that ABC execs are already courting their late-night star for the job, the Post story correctly assumes that an official announcement about next year’s Oscar host is likely many months away. However, it’s certainly possible that if Kimmel were to agree to take on the role, the Oscars could break with that tradition and announce it a lot sooner.

Certainly, Kimmel as Oscar host will go over a lot better with ABC officials than Jimmy Fallon, the host of “Late Night” on NBC and heir-apparent to “The Tonight Show,” who was reportedly approached last year to host the show (with Lorne Michaels producing). ABC officials were said to disapprove of that choice because Fallon is on a competing network and will likely be facing off with Kimmel within a few years.

Over the years, we’ve often wondered why Jay Leno has never been asked to host the show — since he’s a Hollywood A-lister if there ever was one. Or, if he has been asked, why hasn’t he ever done it? Now, however, with Kimmel competing directly against him at 11:35 p.m. weeknights (and with Kimmel apparently disliking him intensely), the odds of Leno ever hosting the Oscars on ABC are approximately nil.

Long ago, when Johnny Carson was the only personality in late-night who mattered, he hosted the Oscars on ABC for several years, even though he was NBC’s biggest star at the time. ABC has had the rights to the annual Oscars telecast since 1976. Of course, ABC had no real competitive presence in late-night talk until Kimmel launched “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in 2003.

Our take: Well, you can see what our take is at several points above. We think this idea makes perfect sense. And by the way, with his after-the-Oscars specials, Kimmel already seems to have been auditioning for the host’s job for several years. This year’s pre-produced bit seen on the show last weekend — the elaborate movie “trailer” for a fictional film — even played like a bit that may have been produced for an Oscars show. (Watch it above.)

Watch the entire “After the Oscars” show right here:
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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