After last year’s disastrous error, in which “Moonlight’s” Best Picture Oscar was accidentally awarded to “La La Land” on live television before the mistake was rectified, the awards show has nowhere else to go but up. Presumably.
It’s a subject that Jimmy Kimmel has thought about at length after he hosted in 2017 and will once again do the honors for the upcoming March ceremony. “I don’t think it’s going to happen again,” he said on Monday at the Television Critics Association press tour panel for the Oscars. But if such a SNAFU did come to pass, Kimmel said, “It would tickle me deeply.”
Kimmel believes if another error of that level happened, most likely everyone associated with the ceremony would be fired since that would indicate “no one is competent.” Given the amount of coverage and dissection the moment inspired, replicating it does seem to be an impossibility.
“Moonlight”-gate mistakes aside, hosting awards ceremonies has gotten even more challenging than ever. In today’s politically and socially aware climate, hosts are tasked with balancing humor and entertainment with just enough awareness of current events; otherwise, they run the risk of sounding tone-deaf, out of touch, or insensitive. Gone are the days when the Oscars were just about glitz, glamour, and gowns.
The Harvey Weinstein of It All
Kimmel gave credit to Seth Meyers for becoming the first host of a televised awards ceremony in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s unmasking as a sexual predator and the entire #MeToo movement. “I do thank him for that litmus test,” said Kimmel about Meyers entering new, uncertain territory. He also lauded the Golden Globes for switching up the conversation when it came to the usual red carpet parade of fashion. As part of the Time’s Up movement to highlight the epidemic of sexual harassment and abuse, supporters wore black in protest.
“I thought the red carpet was interesting because people were talking about something for once, and I think that was fascinating,” he told reporters after the TCA panel. “Typically it’s just what do you have on your body, what fabrics are on your body. At the very least it was great to see people discussing something of significance. Ultimately, how can you argue that any of this is anything but good?”
Whether or not Kimmel follows Meyers’ example and addresses sexual misconduct or even Weinstein during the Oscars remains to be seen.
“I don’t know what the mood will be going into that show, it’s two months away,” he said. “Who’s to say Harvey Weinstein will be alive in two months? That wasn’t a joke.”
Leaving Obamacare at Home
That said, Kimmel is sure that he won’t touch one subject near and dear to his heart: Obamacare. The host has brought it up multiple times on his late-night show, inspired by his baby son’s health issues and the treatment he received.
“I don’t intend to use the Oscars as a platform for health care,” he said. “You need to remember why you’re there. It’s not about you… You’re there to entertain people who are there on the biggest night of their lives. If it gets too heavy, you’re taking away from that.”
Oprah for President
When Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes, her invigorating and optimistic acceptance speech brought down the house and inspired many to tout her as a 2020 presidential candidate.
“Given the choice between Oprah and the current president, I’m on the bus with Oprah traveling the country,” said Kimmel.
Also, forget about calling her President Oprah. “We’d have to call her President Winfrey, you realize that?” he added. “I don’t know if we’re prepared for that as a country.”
The Oscars Jokes That Don’t Work
The Oscar nominations won’t be announced until Jan. 23, so there’s only so much preparation Kimmel can do.
“We start by trying to guess which movies will be nominated and then writing jokes to them,” he said. “Once the nominations come out we’ll start buckling down and writing our jokes in earnest.
Surprisingly, Kimmel found that doing his research too well could backfire on him.
“I try to watch every movie nominated and might be nominated,” he said, “but the downside is that the people in the room haven’t seen a lot of the movies that they voted for… I made a joke about ‘Moonlight’ that fell flat. I thought that was interesting.”
In contrast, he pointed out, “One of the positive things about Donald Trump is when you make a joke about him, people get it.”
No One Is Off Limits
Kimmel and Matt Damon have a long history of mocking each other. Last year’s Oscars included an extensive bit that highlighted the worst performances of Damon’s career. In light of the actor’s more recent and incendiary statements about sexual misconduct though — namely that he doesn’t think that all behaviors should be lumped together — and rumors that he had helped cover up a Weinstein story in the past, Kimmel could be faced with actually skewering his good friend about those subjects.
“Matt Damon was born a joke, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “I hope we’re focused on something else in two months. But [he’s game for] a little elbow in the ribs. I’m always open to it.”
The 90th Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, March 4 on ABC.