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Jimmy Kimmel is returning to the Oscar stage.
The announcement follows the Sept. 17 reveal that award show veterans Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner will be producing the ceremony. Their hiring signaled the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ commitment to having producers with “live TV expertise” back at the helm, one of several goals that the Academy’s newly hired CEO, Bill Kramer, had shared during an August call with journalists. (The 2021 and 2022 telecasts were produced by film director Steven Soderbergh and film producer Will Packer, respectively.) Molly McNearney, Kimmel’s wife and Jimmy Kimmel Live! co-head writer and longtime executive producer, will executive produce the 95th Oscars as well.
“We’re super thrilled to have Jimmy score his hat trick on this global stage,” said Weiss and Kirshner in a joint statement. “We know he will be funny and ready for anything!”
The big show is set to take place March 12, 2023, and will face considerable ratings pressure. The last go-round, which was hosted by the trio of Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, drew nearly 17 million viewers, which was up considerably from the year prior, a scaled-down, hostless telecast, but still trailed past years by a wide margin. In fact, it marked the second-lowest-rated Oscars telecast ever, which was not lost on the Academy or its host network, ABC. Of course, the 2022 show will be largely remembered for both its controversial decision to prerecord and air an edited-down presentation of eight awards and for Will Smith famously slapping Chris Rock — just as Kimmel’s first foray as host is often remembered for “Envelope-gate,” when La La Land was announced as the best picture Oscar winner before it became apparent Moonlight had actually won.
In September, Kramer and Janet Yang, the Academy’s newly elected president, hosted an all-member meeting where past and present telecasts were discussed. “From our recent member survey, we learned from our Academy members that they did not love the 94th Oscars,” Kramer acknowledged to members, prompting laughter. “It had a 20 percent positivity rating from Academy members, compared to 61 percent for the 92nd; only 2 percent liked the Fan Favorite; only 17 percent approved of the prerecorded awards; and fewer Academy members are watching the full show — 67 percent for the 92nd, 59 percent for the 94th.” He vowed to address their concerns, noting that the Academy, in its discussions with ABC, was committed to “honoring all crafts and disciplines on air” during the Oscars telecast, garnering big applause in the room.
“Jimmy is the perfect host to help us recognize the incredible artists and films of our 95th Oscars. His love of movies, live TV expertise and ability to connect with our global audiences will create an unforgettable experience for our millions of viewers worldwide,” noted Kramer and Yang in another joint statement. “With Kimmel, Weiss and Kirshner’s fresh perspective and masterful guidance, the Oscars will celebrate its rich 95-year history, the collaborative nature of moviemaking and our diverse, dynamic and deeply creative community of filmmakers.”
The news of Kimmel’s appointment comes a month and a half after ABC announced that the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host had inked a new three-year extension, which will take the show through its 23rd season. In his lengthy tenure, Kimmel has proved to be an increasingly valuable asset for ABC and parent Disney, well beyond his nightly hour of television. In addition to hosting the Oscars twice before, he’s emceed the Emmys multiple times and appears annually at the company’s upfront presentation, where he famously skewers his network and its competitors. He’s also produced and fronted additional shows for the network, including recent Emmy nominee Live in Front of a Studio Audience with Norman Lear.
“Having Jimmy Kimmel return to host the Oscars is a dream come true. As we see every night on his own show, Jimmy can handle anything with both heart and humor, and we know that he will deliver the laughs and celebratory moments that define the Oscars,” noted Craig Erwich, president of ABC Entertainment, Hulu & Disney Branded Television Streaming Originals. “We love being the home of Hollywood’s biggest night and can’t wait to toast the success of this year’s cinema and storytelling.”
In the past, Kimmel has called hosting the Oscars a “highlight of [his] career.” Making the announcement in early November — as opposed to mid-February, which is when the 2022 hosts were revealed — ensures that he and his producers will have plenty of time to prepare. On that August call with journalists, Kramer acknowledged that the Academy would also benefit from hiring its telecast producers and host earlier than in years past, and from locking them up for multiyear commitments so that new people don’t have to learn the jobs from scratch each year. It is unclear if Weiss and Kirshner or Kimmel have signed on for more than one year.
“Being invited to host the Oscars for a third time is either a great honor or a trap,” joked Kimmel. “Either way, I am grateful to the Academy for asking me so quickly after everyone good said no.”
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