As awards season gets underway, perhaps now would be an appropriate time – before the drama of the best dress, worst hair, most expensive clutch, biggest fight, longest speech and drunkest hook-up at an after party takes center stage – to pay tribute to some of the biggest stars of the awards shows who, ironically, get the least recognition. Worse than that, they are scorned, snubbed by the industry elite, deemed by their peers as the pond scum of Hollywood. Yes, theirs is a lowly job, one that spurs harsh criticisms and ruthless name-calling. It is a duty that few celebrities are willing to take on, for fear that it will tarnish their reputations, and careers, forever. They are the heroes – better yet, martyrs – of showbiz. They are none other than… the HOSTS!
Yes, that’s right. The hosts. While many may think of the host of an awards show as merely a supporting role, at best, the truth is that the actors and comedians who accept this responsibility deserve to be nominated for best lead role in a comedy, drama, or horror film (depending on the year). Unlike television or film, however, when it comes to this precarious role, onscreen talent doesn’t always translate to real life. The following celebrities are but a few of the innocent victims whose careers have been forever tainted by their stint as an awards show host.
Billy Crystal, 2012 Oscars: Though blamed for what critics labeled as the most boring Oscars ever and for aging the already 84-year-old awards show, perhaps Crystal’s most inexcusable blunder was his highly condemned racial slur following the win of Octavo Spencer: “After I saw ‘The Help’ I just wanted to hug the first black woman I saw, which from Beverly Hills is about a 45 minute drive.” After last year’s fiasco, it’s doubtful that Crystal will be asked to return for a repeat performance.
Anne Hathaway and James Franco, 2011 Oscars: Despite the Academy’s best efforts to appeal to a younger generation of moviegoers, the result was a performance that was at once dizzying and lackluster. Though Hathaway’s irritatingly sweet enthusiasm made her an easy target for critics, at least she showed some interest, compared to Franco, who seemed more suited to a “Cheech and Chong” duet rather than an Oscar co-host.
Chris Rock, 2005 Oscars: Though Rock’s stand-up comedy is a huge success, perhaps his humor was a little too raw for this audience. While his opening act did get some laughs, he definitely ruffled some Hollywood feathers when he questioned the talent of Jude Law and classified several other actors as second-rate. While some critics chalked it up to Rock just being Rock, others found the comedian’s remarks less than humorous.
David Letterman, 1995 Oscars: Could it be true? Is it possible that the legendary king of late-night actually bombed as on Oscar host? Sadly, yes. But, I’m blaming this one purely on a disconnect between Letterman’s sophisticated, sardonic East coast humor, and the more moderate, shall we say obtuse sensibility of Hollywood. Still, it’s impossible to deny the awkward lameness of his now infamous “Oprah, Uma” gag.
Chevy Chase, 1988 Oscars: Though this was Chase’s second consecutive year as host (he co-hosted the Oscars in 1987), after he greeted the audience by saying “Good evening, Hollywood phonies,” Chase was never asked back again.
Though most of these celebrities are considered superstars in their respective genres, their gigs as host gone awry continue to follow them, their personal records forever marred by this shameful misdemeanor. The big question is who will be this year’s sacrificial lambs? On October 1st, The Academy announced that Seth MacFarlane will be hosting the upcoming 85th Academy Awards. Known primarily as the creator of “Family Guy” and “Ted,” MacFarlane is perhaps a surprising and less obvious choice for Oscars producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, whose decision has been questioned by some critics.
Whether Zadan’s and Meron’s risk will pay off remains to be seen, but the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has wasted no time in seizing this opportunity to steal the spotlight this awards season. While the Golden Globes Awards have been playing it safe for the past few years (Ricky Gervais has been the host since 2010), this year they seem to be stepping it up a notch. Just two weeks following the news that MacFarlane will host the Oscars, the HFPA announced that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will be their golden girls at January’s awards ceremony. Already, critics are touting the Globes’ decision as a better choice, pointing to Fey’s universal appeal and the effortless dynamic between the two comediennes.
Perhaps the critics are right. Perhaps MacFarlane’s career will take a nose-dive while Fey and Poehler will be rocketed to the pinnacle of stardom as the first ever Golden Globes hosts to turn out a successful, funny and non-offensive show. Or perhaps underdog MacFarlane will pull out a shocking triumph, upsetting critics for decades to come. Most likely, however, is that these two rivaling awards shows have turned into media circuses whereby success is based on the fame and talent of the host, rather than that of the nominees. While it’s true that everyone enjoys a good show, it seems that Hollywood has forgotten the very reason for which these awards ceremonies were created: to celebrate the art and the magic of acting. Instead, the awards shows have turned into public roasts for the nominees and hosts alike. And that makes for the biggest tragedy of all.
What do you think? Post a comment and tell us who you’d like to see host the awards shows.