The 95th Academy Awards has a host and he is no stranger to the job.
Jimmy Kimmel has been set by the Academy and ABC to return as host for the show which will be held on Sunday March 12. Executive Producers and showrunners Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner announced the news this morning. This will be Kimmel’s third time at bat on the Dolby Stage for Hollywood’s biggest night of the year after previously hosting in 2017 (89th awards) and 2018 (90th awards). After the latter show which drew then-record low ratings, the broadcast went hostless in 2019, 2020, and 2021 (when the Oscars were heavily pandemic-affected and stripped down, drawing the lowest ratings ever).
Kimmel, who of course is also the star of ABC’s signature late night series, Jimmy Kimmel Live, has a unique place in Oscar history, having presided over the infamous ‘envelope-gate’ show in 2017 when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope and announced La La Land as the Best Picture winner, only to embarrassingly be corrected when one of that film’s producers grabbed the correct envelope to reveal there had been a mistake and Moonlight was the actual winner instead. It was pure mayhem and Kimmel was right there on stage in the middle of it all. He was back the next year however, and so were Beatty and Dunaway presenting Best Picture again (to The Shape Of Water), that time with no incident.
The 2017 show drew 32.9 million viewers according to the ratings, while his return stint in 2018 came in with six million fewer at 26.5. 2019’s hostless Oscars drew 29.6 viewers, but the past three years have all scored much lower, even with the return of the host format last year when the Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall fronted ceremony improved on the previous year’s widely panned Covid show, jumping to 16.6 million viewers, still the second lowest on the books. “I got paid $15,000 to host the Oscars and there’s one of me,” Kimmel told Sykes after she got the job. “You guys will probably have to split that.”
ABC and AMPAS clearly are hoping Kimmel can return it to at least the modest levels — post-Oscar’s past glory days of huge ratings — seen when he last hosted.
“We’re super thrilled to have Jimmy score his hat trick on this global stage. We know he will be funny and ready for anything.” said Weiss and Kirshner in understated fashion.
“Jimmy is the perfect host to help us recognize the incredible artists and films of our 95th Oscars. His love of movies, live TV expertise, and ability to connect with our global audiences will create an unforgettable experience for our millions of viewers worldwide,” said Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang. “With Kimmel, Weiss and Kirshner’s fresh perspective and masterful guidance, the Oscars will celebrate its rich 95-year history, the collaborative nature of moviemaking, and our diverse, dynamic and deeply creative community of filmmakers.”
“Having Jimmy Kimmel return to host ‘The Oscars’ is a dream come true. As we see every night on his own show, Jimmy can handle anything with both heart and humor, and we know that he will deliver the laughs and celebratory moments that define the Oscars,” said Craig Erwich, president, ABC Entertainment, Hulu & Disney Branded Television Streaming Originals. “We love being the home of Hollywood’s biggest night and can’t wait to toast the success of this year’s cinema and storytelling.”
When ABC had the pandemic-affected Emmy show in 2020 they also turned to Kimmel who drew praise for that inventive broadcast, but also record low ratings at the time, something he amusingly predicted when I interviewed him shortly before it aired.
Kimmel had some choice comments to add upon this announcement of his third time in the host’s gig.
“Being invited to host the Oscars for a third time is either a great honor or a trap. Either way, I am grateful to the Academy for asking me so quickly after everyone good said no,” he said.
Kimmel recently signed a three-year contract extension for his late night show which began in 2003 and now will take him through 2026, making him one of the longest-running talk show hosts in American television history. He still has a ways to go to catch Johnny Carson who hosted The Tonight Show for three decades, as well as hosting the Oscars five times, but Kimmel is gaining. Weiss and Kirshner also announced that Molly McNearney will join as Executive Producer for the 95th Oscars. She has been a writer and producer on JKL and is also married to Kimmel.
The 95th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 12, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide.