According to The Rock, He Was First Choice to Host the Oscars

If this is true, the Oscars could have looked very different this year. On Wednesday, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tweeted about the Oscars going hostless, claiming that he was actually first choice for the gig. However, his reasoning behind why he had to turn down the role has led some to believe that he was actually trolling his Jumanji costar Kevin Hart, who stepped down from hosting the ceremony in December following backlash regarding past homophobic jokes on social media.

After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this week that the 2019 show will officially be airing without a host, journalist Dan Buffa commented on the controversy, saying, “If the Academy is so inclined to line up a great host for next year’s Oscars, just pick @TheRock. Nuff said.”

In response, Johnson quote-tweeted Buffa and wrote, “Ah mahalo dude, I was their first choice to host this year, and my goal was to make it the most fun and entertaining Oscars ever. We all tried hard, but couldn’t make it work since I’m shooting Jumanji. Academy and I were super bummed but maybe one day down the road.” He also included the tumbler glass emoji.

While it does seem plausible that filming obligations would prevent someone from being able to host an award ceremony, fans were quick to point out that Hart and Johnson are both in Jumanji, which makes the reasoning seem flimsy. According to Entertainment Tonight, Johnson and Hart often poke fun at each other online, which is why some fans thought he may have been teasing his costar. As of Thursday, Hart has not commented on Johnson’s claim.

ET reports that during the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday, ABC president Karey Burke confirmed the academy’s plan to go without a host. She said, “There wasn’t messiness beyond the Kevin Hart situation. After that, it was pretty clear that we were going to stay the course.”

Burke noted that eliminating the host slot and instead having presenters take on the duties of hosting will also bring the broadcast time down: “The main goal, which I was told, was the Academy promised ABC last year after a very lengthy telecast to keep the show to three hours,” she said. “Producers wisely decided to not to have a host and to go back to having the presenters and movies be the stars, and that be the best way to keep the show at a brisk three hours.”

The 91st annual Academy Awards will air Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8/7c on ABC.

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