On her syndicated talk show Friday, Ellen DeGeneres decided to use her time with Kevin Hart, who is the midst of promoting his new film “The Upside,” to provide a forum for the comic actor to re-assess his decision to step down as the host of the 2019 Oscars. He did so after being asked by the academy to apologize for his past homophobic tweets from 2008. Instead, Hart chose to turn down what he had called his dream job rather than say he was sorry.
In several clips that appeared Thursday on her show’s website, Hart says he is evaluating that action after DeGeneres, who is openly gay, contacted the academy and made a case to reconsider him. “I called them. I said, ‘Kevin’s on. I have no idea if he wants to come back and host. But what are your thoughts?’ And they were like, ‘Oh my God, we want him to host.’ ”
DeGeneres defended Hart as being a victim of a nasty social media campaign to upend his thriving career and stated her case that he should maybe change his mind. “You have grown, you have apologized, you are apologizing again right now. You’ve done it. Don’t let those people win — host the Oscars.”
However, after the clips of the interview appeared online, DeGeneres herself got some angry social media push back for using her clout to forgive Hart’s past LBGTQ sins. The trouble is, the “Ride Along” star’s compromised situation now is likely to overshadow what is Hollywood’s biggest promotional event of the year. Plus, if last year’s lowest-ever ratings are a concern, any backlash against Hart is likely to be more of a damper than a boost. Besides, there are so many blockbusters in the running for Best Picture Oscars this year, including “A Star Is Born” and “Black Panther,” more viewers are likely to have a vested interest in what wins.
For now, the Oscar ceremony that airs on Feb. 24 remains host-less — which might help to keep the often-bloated show to the three-hour mark. Tell us what you think and take the poll below.