NBC late-night star Jimmy Fallon stopped by the “Today” show’s London operations this week to tell Matt Lauer: “No, I’m not doing the Oscars. It’s an honor to be asked, but it’s not my year.”
That was in response to reports that the late-night star had been tapped to host the annual orgy of trophy dispensing to the year’s brightest luminaries in the motion-picture world.
His announcement, while appearing to surprise Lauer, did not surprise anyone who had stopped to remember that the Academy Awards show has been broadcast on ABC for nearly as long as it’s been on television.
Which, apparently, the outgoing motion-picture academy president, Tom Sherak, did not stop to do when — in his boyish enthusiasm on his way out the door — he approached NBC late-night impresario Lorne Michaels about producing the Oscarscast, with Michaels protégé Fallon hosting. That is surprising because Sherak was the guy who brokered the new Oscar deal between the academy and ABC, as well as a global distribution deal with ABC parent Disney, that runs through 2020.
Sherak’s parting move came as a surprise not only to incoming motion-picture academy president Hawk Koch but also to various execs up and down the ABC and Disney food chain.
Per terms of its Oscar broadcast deal, ABC does not have veto power over the academy’s choice of hosts. But the network is supposed to be consulted because it has a rooting interest in what and who goes on its air.
And though ABC suits have been pretty broad-minded about Oscar hosts — they were okay with Comedy Central’s late-night star Jon Stewart getting the gig and also with NBC prime-time star Alec Baldwin sharing hosting duties with comic Steve Martin — the prospect of Fallon seemed as though the academy was carrying things a bit far, given that Fallon competes against ABC’s late-night star Jimmy Kimmel.
ABC recently appeared to have finally gotten behind Kimmel in a big way. He was the recent-ish selection to host next month’s Primetime Emmy Awards, because it’s ABC’s turn to broadcast that trophy show. The previous time ABC got that show — the major broadcast networks take turns airing the Emmys — the TV academy passed over Kimmel and instead asked a panel of reality-TV hosts to emcee the show.
Understandably, ABC did not want Fallon as Oscars host to eclipse Kimmel as Emmy host. Really, this isn’t rocket science.
So Fallon’s out, though Michaels might still be in. According to an exec who has knowledge of the situation, Fallon never got as far as “negotiations” to host the Oscars — just “talks.”