Janelle Monae, Chris Rock and Steve Martin Address #OscarsSoWhite & Lack of Female Nominees in Opening Act
By Jennifer Drysdale
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No host, no problem!
The 92nd annual Academy Awards kicked off on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood withJanelle Monaeopening the show with her best Mister Rogers. The performer donned a red cardigan and bowler cap to sing "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" -- right to nominated star Tom Hanks -- before kicking off an upbeat number, surrounded by dancers dressed in costumes representing some of this year's biggest nominated films.
Monae then hit the piano, as Billy Porter joined her to sing a bit of Elton John's "I'm Still Standing," before she got decked out in Midsommar flowers to lead the audience in scatting, goading front-row nominees like Brad Pitt and Kathy Bates into joining her sing-along. (She also gave a sly shout-out to "all the women who directed phenomenal films.")
Then Chris Rock and Steve Martin took the stage to present the usual roasting of the A-list guests, also addressing the lack of diversity and female nominees in this year's awards. "They don't really have Oscars hosts anymore, why is that?" Martin wondered. Rock was quick on the draw, offering: "Twitter!"
"There were so many great directors this year," Rock noted, to which Martin raised a valid point. "I don't know, I thought there was something missing."
"Vaginas?" Rock said point-blank, as the cameras cut away to an applauding Greta Gerwig. "Yeah."
"Cynthia Erivo is here tonight," Martin said next.
"Cynthia did such a great job hiding black people in Harriet," Rock chimed in, "that the Academy got her to hide all the black nominees. Is Eddie Murphy under this stage?"
ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke revealed the Oscars was going without a host on Jan. 8, revealing it "worked for us last year." She said they were going for "huge entertainment value, big musical numbers, big comedy and star power."
"A lot of incredible elements have already come together that have convinced us that we are going to have an incredibly entertaining show. Our goal is really that. Our goal is to present the most entertaining show possible and the producers have already put together a plan for what is going to be an entertaining telecast," Burke added.
Last year's Oscars was the first time it had gone hostless since 1989. The decision was made following Kevin Hart's Twitter scandal. Backlash forced him to step down from his previously announced role as host, and the Oscars decided not to replace him.
The 91st annual awards ceremony instead kicked off with a rock n' roll moment, as Adam Lambert and Queen took the stage for a rendition of the band's iconic hits. See more in the video below.