The 2019 Academy Awards ceremony will have no host for the first time in three decades.
After weeks of scrambling to find a replacement for actor and comedian Kevin Hart, who stepped down following backlash over past homophobic comments, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ultimately opted to forgo having a host, ABC Entertainment PR and an academy spokesperson told ABC News on Tuesday.
The academy did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The academy selected Hart in early December to host the 91st Academy Awards following a prolonged search amid declining ratings for the annual broadcast. The choice quickly came under fire, with critics noting the comedian’s previous tweets and jokes expressing homophobia.
Hart, who has presented at past Oscars ceremonies, initially offered a non-apology amid mounting pressure from the academy to address the tweets.
“I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I moved on, and I’m in a completely different space in my life,” Hart said in a video on Instagram. “I’m going to be me; I’m going to stand my ground.”
Hours later, he offered a stronger apology and said he was stepping down as host of the Feb. 24 show.
“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s....this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists,” he wrote on Twitter. “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
Suggestions for replacement hosts abounded in the following weeks. But Variety reported last month that the Oscars would be trying a new format sans host, with producers set to delegate the role of emcee to a selection of A-listers who would introduce various segments.
The outlet, citing an academy insider, also reported the broadcast would include skits and musical segments to fill the void left by Hart.
The last time the Oscars had no host was the 61st Academy Awards in March 1989, which opened with a widely mocked musical number starring Rob Lowe and Snow White.
Marina Fang contributed to this report. This story has been updated with more background on the show.