Jimmy Kimmel said he will return as host of the Oscars

Jimmy Kimmel said he will return as host of the Oscars

Oscars organizers decided to stick with a tried-and-true host: Jimmy Kimmel.

Mr. Kimmel, a comedian who has hosted the event three times, will return to the Oscars stage on March 10 to emcee the 96th annual ceremony, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose it. Molly McInerney, co-writer and executive producer of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” On ABC, he will serve as executive producer of the 96th Academy Awards telecast.

“I have always dreamed of hosting the Oscars exactly four times,” Kimmel said in a statement.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not respond to requests for comment.

Seeking the ceremony’s cultural relevance after a period of declining ratings, the Academy and ABC, which broadcasts the Oscars, have diversified between the two formats in recent years. They tried three hosts in 2022 (Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall, and Amy Schumer) and none, from 2019 to 2021. For the 2023 show, the Academy is back to one host — Mr. Kimmel, who also did the job in 2017. And 2018. .

He delivered. Viewership rose to nearly 19 million people this year, according to Nielsen, up from 16.6 million the previous year and 10.4 million in 2021, an all-time low. Before 2018, the number of TV broadcasts had never fallen below 32 million.

Just as importantly for the Academy, Mr. Kimmel’s return was controversy-free, helping restore luster to an event tarnished in 2022 when Will Smith got on stage and slapped Chris Rock. The Academy and ABC also overhauled the red carpet pre-show, hiring experienced Met Gala consultants to make the stars’ arrivals seem less chaotic and more glamorous. The red carpet took over in favor of the champagne-colored carpet.

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“After his triumphant return to the Oscars stage last year, we are honored to have Jimmy back,” Craig Erwich, president of ABC Entertainment, Hulu and Disney Branded Television Streaming Originals, said in a statement. He described Mr. Kimmel as a “valuable member of the Disney family.” (Disney owns ABC.)

Hosting the show was previously seen as a feather in the cap of major comedians such as Billy Crystal, who has presented nine times, and Whoopi Goldberg, who has been the host of the show four times. But many stars have become apprehensive about the time commitment and the potential backlash that hosting could bring. The Oscars’ trash talk — with its stilted banter, voter choices, and its very existence — has become a defining feature of the social media age.

Hollywood’s awards season has gotten off to a slow start this time around due to an actors’ strike, preventing stars from promoting their final works. As the strike ended, studios and publicists scrambled to ramp up awards campaigns, pushing stars like Emma Stone, the front-runner for best actress for her bawdy performance in the surreal comedy-drama “Bad Things,” and films like “American Fantasy.” , a satire about a writer who compiles a fake memoir revolving around racial stereotypes.

Other films expected to feature prominently at the 96th Academy Awards include “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” both of which were huge successes at the global box office. If they get the number of nominations people in Hollywood expect, that will help Mr. Kimmel: viewership for the Oscars tends to increase when popular films are honored.

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