Update, January 6, 2019, 9:30 a.m.: Kevin Hart will not host the 91st Academy Awards after all, Deadline reports, in what appears to be his "final answer."
According to Deadline, Hart felt his presence as host would be a distraction, taking the spotlight off those being honoured, and would have had too little time to prepare had he returned.
The Academy has instead found stars to present awards in place of a single host, but no plans have been formally announced. The Oscars air on February 24 at 8 p.m. ET.
Update, January 5, 2019, 3:30 p.m.: Kevin Hart has posted an apparent response on Instagram to CNN anchor Don Lemon's criticism of Hart's Ellen interview. In a screenshot of text, Hart referenced "a news anchor or journalist" as well as basketball players, architects, CEOs, firemen and doctors, and focused on learning and growth.
"When did we get to the point where we forgot that we all learn, then we all have the ability to grow and with that growth comes a wealth of knowledge. You can’t change without a understanding of what GROWTH means," Hart captioned the post. ".....Please grasp this and use it in 2019."
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When did we get to the point where we forgot that we all learn, then we all have the ability to grow and with that growth comes a wealth of knowledge. You can’t change without a understanding of what GROWTH means. #Message #LiveLoveLaugh #HappySaturday .....Please grasp this and use it in 2019
This article was originally published on January 5, 2019 at 11:15 a.m.
Just under a month after Kevin Hart stepped down as Oscars host after several homophobic jokes and tweets of his resurfaced, Variety reports that unnamed sources say the Academy is open to having Hart return as host for the annual broadcast. If Hart wants the job, he reportedly simply has to make a “signal” to the Academy, which might include a message on Twitter, Instagram, or from a spokesperson.
The Academy’s new position may be due to Hart’s appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres show on Friday. The Academy had hoped Hart would have a more “meaningful” conversation about his old jokes, according to Variety's source. But DeGeneres, who hosted the Oscars in 2006 and 2014, said she still wanted Hart to host and had even called the Academy on his behalf to ask them to reconsider.
In response to DeGeneres’s prompting, Hart said he wanted to take some time to think.
Hart apologized for his past remarks in two tweets on December 6, 2018, following the announcement that he stepped down, but many people hoped he would have a more meaningful conversation about the content of and effect of his jokes.
I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year's Oscar's....this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018
I'm sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) December 7, 2018
And Vulture pointed out the past apologies that Hart referred to on his Ellen appearance are next to impossible to find.
Among Hart’s critics was CNN news anchor Don Lemon. In a segment on Friday night, Lemon rebuked Hart’s desire to put his past remarks behind him without taking much action.
“Many of us really need to keep the conversation going. It’s life or death,” Lemon said. “And someone like Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, can be a leader. The ultimate change agent. He can help change homophobia in the black community.”
Lemon highlighted a particularly disturbing old tweet of Hart’s in which he said he would break a dollhouse over his son’s head if he tried to play with it.
“That was a joke to Kevin. But the truth is, that is a reality to many little boys in the United States,” Lemon said. “Those views of the LGBT people within the black community have consequences.”
Lemon pointed out that 44% of homeless gay youth are Black and 62% of homeless transgender youth are Black, which, considering that Black people only make up 12% of the U.S. population, is a “huge” number.
“Those kids were likely kicked out of their homes, or had to run away, because of who they are and because of how their community treats them,” he said.
Lemon also called DeGeneres a “trailblazer and respected leader in the LGBT community,” but criticized her decision to use her show to try and absolve Hart.
“Honestly, Ellen doesn’t speak for the whole community,” he said. “We need to speak up for the young back people, especially young black men — kids — in the LGBT community.”
"Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender, being an ally does," says CNN's @DonLemon, reacting to the Oscars' openness to Kevin Hart's return https://t.co/ITGU3Uj2ez pic.twitter.com/4u48sfBF0U— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) January 5, 2019
Correction: In an earlier version of this article, Hart's direct apology was not included. It has been added.