Former Oscars Producer Says Show Doesn’t Necessarily Need a Host

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Bruce Cohen

Bruce Cohen told The Hollywood Reporter that since the Academy Awards celebrates film, the focus should be on the movies and their stars.

When Donna Gigliotti, who is producing this year’s Oscars, took the stage Monday at a reception for the Producers Guild Award nominees in New York, she had a simple message for everyone present: “If anyone in this room asks me who is going to host the Oscars, security is going to escort you out.”

Gigliotti made the joke before introducing Bruce Cohen, the winner of this year’s Charles B. FitzSimons Lifetime Achievement Award. Cohen himself is certainly no stranger to the Oscars; in addition to winning best picture in 2000 for American Beauty, he also produced the 2011 Oscars broadcast. Leading up to this year’s show, Cohen told The Hollywood Reporter he’s been vicariously riding “the intense, indescribable roller coaster ride that is producing the Oscars.”

This year is particularly challenging for the Academy, and all because of the hosting role. Kevin Hart was announced to lead the show on Dec. 4, but withdrew from the gig just two days later after an uproar over years-old homophobic tweets. The position has remained vacant ever since.

But according to Cohen, the Oscars don’t necessarily need a host.

“I had looked back at all the previous Oscar shows and also noticed that there was this period right before Johnny Carson, for like 15 years, that a bunch of different movie stars would sort of split the hosting duties every year,” Cohen said. “When I was thinking about my show, one of the things that I did love about that is that it’s the movies.”

James Franco and Anne Hathaway were ultimately chosen to host the broadcast Cohen produced. Franco’s 127 Hours was up for six Oscars, including best picture.

“I mean, I love a good late-night television comedian, but the Oscars celebrate film,” Cohen said. “So I think the more you have movie stars involved with the Oscars, the better.”