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The 2019 Oscars may be the first Academy Awards without a host in 30 years, but viewers who heard first presenters Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph’s monologue-esque series of jokes could be forgiven for thinking the trio were the night’s emcees.
But Fey, Poehler and Rudolph repeatedly insisted they weren’t hosting the show (indeed, they were technically there to present the award for best supporting actress). Still, Fey joked that they would stay onstage a little longer, “so the people who get USA Today tomorrow will think that we hosted.”
“But we will be presenting commercials during the awards,” Poehler joked. “So if all the winners could please say, ‘Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, we’re on the side of food’ instead of your speeches, that would be great.”
Hellmann’s later responded to the shout-out on Twitter, offering Poehler a lifetime supply of the condiment.
— Hellmann’s (@Hellmanns) February 25, 2019
— Hellmann’s (@Hellmanns) February 25, 2019
The three women then proceeded to make a number of jokes about this year’s nominees — including Bohemian Rhapsody, The Wife, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Roma — as they offered their impression of what their time hosting would have sounded like.
“Roma’s on Netflix,” Fey joked. “What’s next, my microwave makes a movie?”
After a Star Is Born joke from Rudolph, she and Poehler did an over-the-top version of part of Lady Gaga’s vocals from the Oscar-nominated “Shallow.”
Inside, the crowd was on its feet, with Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Lady Gaga and Javier Bardem among those seen clapping and rocking out to the performance.
After a minute or so of the first song, the group transitioned into “We Are the Champions.” With that song, Lambert got the well-heeled audience to wave their hands over their heads.
Lambert said “Welcome to the Oscars” at the end of the performance before an announcer took over and ABC aired clips from the red carpet of some of the high-profile guests attending. That was followed by a montage of clips from films released over the past year.
The 91st annual Academy Awards is the first ceremony without a host in 30 years and only the second time the Oscars have gone without an emcee in its history. The Academy had announced Kevin Hart as the host for the 2019 ceremony in early December, but he pulled out of the gig just two days later amid controversy over old homophobic tweets. It seemed like Hart might return to the gig in January, when he made an emotional appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and she said she’d contacted the Academy and that they were still open to having him host if he was willing. It turns out he was not, as Hart explained on Good Morning America on Jan. 9.
It later emerged that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had been asked to host prior to Hart’s being announced as emcee. And while the WWE star turned box office draw was enthusiastic about the idea and planned out what he’d do with producers, his conversations with the Academy stalled over timing, as the highest-paid actor in Hollywood was committed to shooting Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw and the Jumanji sequel at the same time planning and rehearsals for the Oscars would take place.
The Academy also considered having three separate hosts, each one emceeing the ceremony for one hour, which a source told The Hollywood Reporter would be less of a “burden for the talent.”
Earlier this month, the Academy finally confirmed weeks of rumors that the 2019 ceremony would proceed without a host.
And the lack of a host has given this year’s Oscars a bit of an “anything can happen” vibe.
“Ironically, I have found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars has kept them in the conversation,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in February. “The mystery is really compelling. People really care.”
But despite no host, this year’s show isn’t short on star power, with Daniel Craig, Chadwick Boseman, Barbra Streisand, Serena Williams, Samuel L. Jackson, Melissa McCarthy and Jason Momoa among the presenters.
With the last host-less Oscars taking place in 1989, the year of the infamous Rob Lowe-Snow White duet, viewers have likely been wondering how the 2019 Oscars would begin.
Sunday night they got their answer.
9:31 p.m. This story has been updated with Hellmann’s tweets.
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