Kevin Hart has said hosting the Oscars was “a goal on my list for a long time”, as he confirmed he is fronting 2019’s star-studded ceremony.
Describing it as the “opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian”, he said “my mom is smiling from ear to ear right now”.
He’s following on from Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted both last year and also for 2017’s infamous #Envelopegate.
Jumanji star Hart said he will “rise to the occasion”.
He described previous hosts, who include Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Hugh Jackman, Jon Stuart, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, as a “legendary list”.
“I will be sure to make this years Oscars a special one,” he added.
Hart will no doubt be hoping he doesn’t have to preside over anything as dramatic as #Envelopegate, when the best picture award was wrongly handed to La La Land instead of Moonlight.
But he will still face mounting pressure to attract a bigger TV audiences, especially a younger demographic, as viewing figures for ceremony continue to dwindle.
This year’s ceremony attracted its smallest recorded US TV audience with 26.5 million total viewers, down from 32.9 million in 2017.
Hollywood Reporter has called hosting the Oscars “the least wanted job in Hollywood“.
It said: “Many who might appear perfect to host have sidestepped the job. Oprah Winfrey. Justin Timberlake. Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Jerry Seinfeld…
“Even Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who dazzled at the Golden Globes in 2013, 2014 and 2015, have reportedly passed on the Oscar job.”
It added that apart from Crystal, the academy has “struggled to find the right anchor, and nobody has been willing to run the gantlet more than twice”.
Citing “two-timers” Kimmel, DeGeneres, Jackman, Rock and Stewart, it said most of them have “vowed never to do it again (though ‘never’ has a certain elasticity in Hollywood)”.
Previous recent hosts have been more playful with audiences, with Billy Crystal’s song-and-dance opening numbers from the 90s now largely a thing of the past.
DeGeneres’ hosting duties included serving the audience pizza from a delivery box in 2014 along with taking a selfie which included Hollywood royalty such as Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence and Brad Pitt.
This year’s ceremony saw Kimmel take an unlikely group including Gal Gadot, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Hamill, Lupita Nyong’o to the cinema next door, to thank them for going to see movies.
Less successful Oscars capers have included Seth McFarlane’s song We Saw Your Boobs in 2013, which some commentators said revealed “how little he thinks of women” and angered stars including Jane Fonda and Lena Dunham.
James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosted in 2011, in what was seen by many as an attempt to draw a younger audience.
This year’s ceremony will also see the postponement of the controversial “popular film” category.
It was meant to be introduced in 2019 but the academy’s CEO said she had “recognised the need for further discussion” with its members about the proposal first.
The Oscars will take place in Los Angeles on 24 February 2019.