Jimmy Fallon, the amiable host of “Late Night” on NBC is the leading contender to front the 2013 Oscars ceremony, with his former “Saturday Night Live” boss Lorne Michaels producing, reports the Los Angeles Times.
That would represent a major play by the Academy to attract a younger audience for the telecast, which is popularly chastised for only courting older viewers who catch all the snooty nominees at discounted matinees.
The same sort of move worked for Oscar in 2006 and 2008, when Comedy Central late-night host Jon Stewart–a favorite among 18-49s–did well (particularly in the latter year).
However, Oscar’s general history using talk-show hosts has been less rosy. David Letterman’s 1994 performance is still widely recognized as one of (if not the) worst ever. And Ellen Degeneres’ 2007 stab at hosting doesn’t rank much higher on the list.
While a bit sillier than the typical Oscar emcee, Fallon fits the bill in more ways than one. He has experience with awards shows, having hosted the Emmys last year. And he is also beloved for his show’s musical numbers, such as a recent comedic recreation of The Doors’ iconic Ed Sullivan show performance using the lyrics to the “Reading Rainbow” theme, which could easily be sandwiched into his monologue.
ABC, the network that airs the telecast, is said to be voicing objection to the choice, being that Fallon directly competes with their late-night man, Jimmy Kimmel. But as LAT reports, they have no official/legal ability to veto the Academy’s host decision.
Last year, Eddie Murphy was set to host the Oscars with Brett Ratner producing, until Ratner was fired because he used the word “fag” at an unrelated Q&A for their film “Tower Heist,” causing Murphy to jump ship with him. Billy Crystal then took over.
This year is unlikely to elicit similar drama, but certainly the Fallon choice is not a “safe” one, so it could be awhile before anything is set in stone.