Will the Oscars Have a Host for 2021? ABC Exec Weighs In (Exclusive)

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After the Oscars went without a host for the second straight year, will they ever consider going back to an emcee?

"I think the producers... have done the best possible version of the hostless Oscars," Robert Mills, ABC's Senior Vice President of Alternative Series, Specials and Late-Night Programming, told ET's Lauren Zima over the phone on Monday. "Going forward, you'll look at if you can get the right host, that would be great. If not, there is a way to do it hostless. It's great having a host."

The ABC executive noted that if the Academy decided to revert back to a traditional host for the 2021 awards ceremony, they would have to consider booking them sooner rather than later -- though he remained noncommittal on whether there was a preference for a host or not moving forward.

"What you need to know now and what the Golden Globes are starting to do is try and book it early. Announcing Tina [Fey] and Amy [Poehler] a year ahead is really how you can ensure getting a host because people are really busy now," Mills said, referring to the Jan. 11 announcement.

Mills admitted that anyone tasked with leading the Oscars, arguably Hollywood's biggest night, is faced with a monumental task and any skeletons in their closet -- whether it be an ill-advised tweet or controversies from the distant past -- could resurface and put them in hot water.

"It is hard for any host. When Chris Rock and Steve Martin were joking why there isn't a host, it's Twitter and everybody's got tweets in the background [but] it's also Twitter because you're immediately judged. For a lot of people, who needs that? 'I'm getting judged five seconds out of that,'" Mills acknowledged. 

"Obviously, what I thought the producers again this year that was really smart was they had a good mix of really good musical performances," he continued. "I don't think we'll ever forget Cynthia Erivo or seeing Elton [John] or the international Elsas and making sure you did have those comedy bits with Steve and Chris, Kristen [Wiig] and Maya [Rudolph], and Will [Ferrell] and Julia [Louis-Dreyfus]. You definitely got the comedy and the music that a host brings to the show. And the surprise factor. A little bit of everything, which paved the way with Parasite. It was a great, great night."

The Oscars went hostless last year for the first time since 1989 following Kevin Hart's now-infamous Twitter scandal and the ensuing backlash, and the 2019 ceremony was something of a mixed bag. The night was jam-packed with top-notch presenters and hilariously bizarre comedic moments, along with a fair share of awkward transitions and seeming confusion as producers tried to fill the gaps between awards.

Hart issued a mea culpa of sorts in his six-part Netflix documentary series, Kevin Hart: Don't F**k This Up, admitting that his frustration with being labeled homophobic led to short-tempered responses, which only increased the backlash against him.

"What I thought it was it wasn't, and my approach to dealing with it because of the assumption that I had is just wrong," Hart said in the docuseries, noting that he realized that he "missed an opportunity" after further reflection and conversations with friends and team members. "I missed an opportunity to say simply that I don't condone any type of violence in any way, shape or form to anyone for being who they are. I f**ked up.... Instead, I said, 'I addressed it.' I said, 'I apologized.' I said, 'I talked about this already.' I was just immature."

This year, the Oscars continued with the hostless tradition, opening with a musical number by Janelle Monae and featuring paired comedians like Martin and Rock, Wiig and Rudolph, as well as Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus, along with performances by the Original Song nominees and a surprise performance from 2003 Oscar winner Eminem.

Jimmy Kimmel was the last person to host the Oscars in 2018. Afterward, the late-night host -- who also hosted the year before in 2017 -- vowed he would never return to host the awards show again, telling reporters at the 2019 summer Television Critics Association press tour that it is a "no-win" gig.

"I hosted the Oscars twice and I think that’s enough," Kimmel said last August. "It’s a no-win, very difficult job. Even when it seems like it was great, you go home and find out some people didn’t think it was great. For someone like me who cares what people think, it’s kind of a f**king nightmare."

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