Will Jimmy Fallon be next year’s Oscar host or won’t he?
That’s still a question with no definitive answer, following several days of conflicting reports out of L.A. that had the NBC “Late Night” star either close to completing a deal to host the year’s biggest awards show, or having no deal at all.
Both stories agree on this: Hiring Fallon as next year’s Oscar host was Motion Picture Academy President Tom Sherak’s idea and he initiated negotiations with Fallon’s reps and with Lorne Michaels, who would also be hired to produce the awards telecast on ABC.
But Sherak’s term as AMPAS president was about to end, and according to the Deadline story, Sherak’s attempt to get a host and producer deal done before he left office (he officially exited this past week) was considered by movie industry insiders (especially the ones who serve on various AMPAS committees and boards) to be a breach of “protocol.”
Or, more to the point, the move was unfair to the new, incoming president, a man named Hawk Koch, who was voted in last week. Apparently, lining up hosts and producers for Oscar telecasts is one of the most important, and most visible, tasks that an AMPAS president has. Certainly, the new guy would want to put his own stamp on that decision, rather than inherit an idea from his predecessor.
But wait, there’s more: As everyone knows, ABC airs the Oscars. And according to both stories, ABC is objecting strenuously to the idea of Jimmy Fallon, an NBC personality, hosting their show. The stories both point out that ABC does not “officially” have a vote on the choice of host — that’s the Motion Picture Academy’s job. Despite that, we suspect ABC does have an “unofficial” say behind the scenes.
Here’s where it stands at this point: The Deadline story says the Fallon/Lorne Michaels scenario is now off the table and not gonna happen, due mainly to the change in chief executives at the Academy this week. The L.A. Times story says the “negotiations” are still on-going, while conceding that the whole thing could fall through.
Our take: If ABC objects strongly enough, Jimmy Fallon won’t be hosting any Oscar telecasts on ABC any time soon. And who can blame ABC for objecting? NBC happens to be completely smitten with the 37-year-old Fallon, and is almost certainly grooming him to take over “The Tonight Show” when Jay Leno decides to hang it up (or is forced out). Getting Jimmy a showcase such as the Oscars to show off his talents is really just a grab for more exposure on another network, which is nothing if not cheeky.
And ABC must have said, Hey, wait a minute, we have a Jimmy also — Jimmy Kimmel — and he gets about the same ratings in late-night as Fallon. Why shouldn’t our Jimmy host the show? In the end, that’s what might happen. Why? It might come down to this: ABC’s Jimmy is an L.A. guy, a movie and TV industry insider. NBC’s Jimmy is a New York guy, and the L.A. show biz community almost always goes with one of their own in these kinds of situations.
What’s it all mean? Stay tuned.