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No Oscars Host Or Producer Yet: Outgoing Academy President Tom Sherak Tried And Failed To Hire Jimmy Fallon, Lorne Michaels

EXCLUSIVE… UPDATED WITH MORE DETAILS:   Tom Sherak now will go down in Oscars history as giving new definition to the word chutzpah. The outgoing president of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences tried to pull a fast one on the incoming president Hawk Koch who was just voted in Tuesday night. Choosing the producer and host of the Oscars is probably the most important job of the AMPAS president. Yet Sherak, despite knowing he himself was a lame duck, nevertheless broke protocol and tried to hire the 85th Academy Awards hosts for the February 24th, 2013, telecast which should be Koch’s responsibility. Sherak solicited TV and film producer Lorne Michaels and NBC Late Night host Jimmy Fallon. The choices were understandable because Fallon had done a good job hosting the Emmys in 2010, while Michaels is the longtime executive producer of Saturday Night Live. On the other hand, the recent trend has been away from a TV host like Fallon and instead towards bonafide movie stars. Deadline learned that Sherak went to the Academy’s Board Of Governors on his own initiative and said, “If I can find a producer, would you be interested?” The Board said yes.

But insiders tell me they felt Sherak’s request was blatantly inappropriate. Hawk Koch, who still didn’t know if he’d be voted in as AMPAS president, was 1st VP and openly expressed reservations. Koch told colleagues Sherak shouldn’t be doing this with a mere matter of weeks before the elections and complained to Sherak about it. The two men agreed with the Academy’s COO Ric Robertson to set a deadline for locking in a producer on the Wednesday before the AMPAS president and officers elections the very next Tuesday.

Immediately, Disney/ABC which airs the Oscars objected to Sherak’s choices because Fallon competes with Jimmy Kimmel’s show and is the soon-to-be-successor to Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show. “When the idea came up of Fallon, we made it clear that we were not happy about that. It was ridiculous to think we would want to give him that big platform,” a Disney insider tells me. “We had no objection to Lorne.” Technically, Disney/ABC can’t tell the Academy what to do since AMPAS controls the Oscars telecast. But the objection was an obstacle to Sherak’s plans, and “he never got the deal done”, one of my sources says. Sherak’s search was called off within 6 days of the new AMPAS president’s election when he couldn’t meet the deadline. “Now the  negotiations are dead,” I’m told. An Academy spokeswoman also is confirming that neither Fallon nor Michaels has been hired.

Related: Behind-The-Scenes Of Hawk Koch’s Academy Win

[UPDATE: Sherak later told the LA Times that the Academy’s Board of Governors gave him the authority 2 months ago to find a producer for the 2013 show. Sherak said he wasn’t able to complete a deal before his term was up. “I couldn’t meet that deadline, so I stopped all negotiations,” he said. The LA Times initially and erroneously reported that Fallon and Michaels are still in talks.] Sherak has been one of Hollywood’s most controversial Academy presidents because he ruled with an iron fist. He also caused one of the Oscars’ most embarrassing episodes when he hired Brett Ratner as the telecast producer — only to have the filmmaker resign in disgrace. Once Ratner left, Sherak’s choice for Oscars host Eddie Murphy also abandned ship. The Academy was left scrambling for a producer and host at the last minute, which was humiliating.

Related: Hawk Koch Interview: Top Priorities For New Academy President Are Oscar Show & Movie Museum

Anyway, the search for an Oscars producer and host is back to square one.  No matter, because there’s plenty of time to pick them. A day after his election as the new Academy President, Hawk Koch told Deadline he wasn’t wasting any time getting into the job and was making his first priority the task of finding a producer and host for the 85th Oscar show. “Number one, right out the block, I have to get a producer and a host for the Oscars,” Koch told Deadline’s awards columnist Pete Hammond on Wednesday. “I want to find a way to get the younger film lovers to want to watch the Oscars. We have Oscar Sunday and we want to find a way to have everyone tune in like they do for Super Bowl Sunday. I want all the nominees on the night of the Oscars to feel like, ‘You know what? I have had the greatest time being nominated and if I win great but it is great to be nominated’. That’s number one.”

Related: Hawk Koch Elected New Academy President Tonight
Three-Term Academy President Tom Sherak’s Farewell Letter

Back in 2010, the Oscar telecast producers announced that James Franco and Anne Hathaway would host the 83rd Academy Awards because they “personify the next generation of Hollywood icons — fresh, exciting and multi-talented.” It was a disaster even though both had very successfully hosted Saturday Night Live. The feeling was that these young actors could work in front of a live audience, which is why in the past the Academy has gone to so many stand-up comedians. The telecast’s failure was why old reliable Billy Crystal was chosen to host the following year.

The decision to host the Academy Awards is made by committee with a star’s agent, publicist, manager and even network/studio weighing all the pro and con options. Which is why the Academy has such a tough time finding good hosts every year because it can be such a career-altering decision. The list of viable candidates from the recent past can be counted on a single hand: Billy. Whoopi. Steve. Hugh. Always Tom Hanks even though he’s never said yes. Hugh again if only he wouldn’t keep saying no. Reps for actors, for instance, don’t want any joke-telling monologue. Not only are these one-liners usually understood only by the movie industry and leave TV viewers
bewildered. But, as Hugh Jackman’s camp told me when he hosted, “He didn’t work the last 20 years to suddenly be a stand-up comedian.”

In recent years of Oscar telecasts, even going back decades, the ceremony has been emceed by mostly TV or movie comedians — whether Will Rogers and George Jessel in the 1930s, Bob Hope off and on for the next three decades, Johnny Carson in the 1980s, even David Letterman in 1995 (the second highest ratings in Oscarcast annals). In the 1990s and 2000s, there’s been Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, and Steve Martin as well as stand-up comedians and TV personalities like Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jon Stewart (whose emceeing resulted in the worst-rated Oscars since Nielsen started tracking them in 1974).

There was a period in the 1970s when groups of actors emceed: 1973 when Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston, and Rock Hudson did it as an ensemble; 1974: John Huston, Diana Ross, Burt Reynolds, and David Niven; 1976, Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, George Segal, Goldie Hawn, and Gene Kelly; 1977, Richard Pryor, Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn, and Warren Beatty. Only a few thesps have hosted the show by themselves, including first AMPAS president and one of the founders Douglas Fairbanks, followed by Jimmy Stewart, Robert
Montgomery, and Jack Lemmon, when the Oscars consisted of an awards banquet, then a radio show, and ultimately a globally broadcast TV spectacle.

Hosting the Academy Awards is like performing the most dangerous stunt imaginable for a Hollywood actor or actress. It’s playing the biggest room with a worldwide TV audience and working in front of a live audience at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre. “There’s no job quite like it in the world,” Bruce Vilanch, the writer of more than two decades of Oscar shows, once told Deadline. “You have to entertain this industry crowd. You have to stay cool when the lights are blazing down. You’ve got to move things along. And you’ve got to be charming without offending anyone.”

  1. I wish they’d consider Craig Ferguson, but since he’s not on ABC, I guess they’d object to him, as well.

    1. They should hire the girl from “Beasts of the Southern Wild” to host. THAT’s the way to attract a younger audience. Or the baby from “The Hangover.”

      1. How about Kathy Griffin and Sarah Jessica Parker?

        If they put that foul-mouthed pig and Seabiscuit on as co-hosts, the Oscars could actually achieve a negative number of viewers!

        Well, if you don’t count Comrades Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Jane Fonda and Kevin Bacon..

    2. I would go in a different direction and go for ,,
      Melissa McCarthy
      Sofia Vergara
      Cloris Leachman
      Jane Krawowski
      and have them host the event as a group ,, !

  2. “When the idea came up of Fallon, we made it clear that we were not happy about that. It was ridiculous to think we would want to give him that big platform,”

    Wait until he hears… Fallon will get the last laugh on his show! Fallon or not, the Oscars were a train wreck behind the scenes (well, almost behind the scenes) last year. They’d better get their cards in order earlier this year.

    1. ‘Little Jimmy’ is not Oscar calibre material.

      He is already in over his head, and the few films
      he was in, were all flops.

      You might as well pick Conan O’Brien, while you’re
      scraping the bottom-of-that-barrel. Or, Amy Poehler.

      1. You obviously didn’t watch Fallon host the Emmy’s a couple of years ago. Best hosting job on the Emmy’s in years. You’re right Fallon could never do as good of a job as James Franco. Johnny Carson was a great host. What films did he star in? You don’t have to be a great movie star, just a great HOST. Billy Crystal, while a fantastic Oscar host, is by no means a Box Office champ. The idea of getting a bonafide movie star to host the ceremony is ridiculous.

        1. I think the real issue is that when the show doesn’t get the ratings they want they try to pass it off as the fault of the host. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I don’t watch the Oscars for the host or any other non essential content. Its about the movies. If the movies that people love are in the running for awards… people will watch regardless of who the host is. As it is, they might better just hire Billy Crystal on as the default host until he dies or wants to stop. When he’s gone find somebody dependible to replace him and then stick with that person. Rotating is unecessary.

          As for Fallon, I’m sure he could rise to the occasion. The rest of the time he acts like a goofball… because people want him to be a goofball…

  3. Would actually be a fantastic Oscars if ABC did a Lorne Michaels-produced show.

    Yes, it would be a huge boost for Fallon, but he’s the heir apparent at NBC for late night already; so it’s time to just go for it.

    1. Sure. It could be just like Saturday Night Live. 15 minutes of inspired hilarity mixed with an hour and 15 minutes of dead air.

  4. I imagine Michaels is still a possibility to produce given his collaboration with Hawk Koch on the first Wayne’s World and ABC’s apparent lack of objections to him. Maybe they’ll finally be able to reel in Tina Fey instead.

  5. The answer is right infront of you people. Jimmy Kimmel would kill on this platform. Lemme guess- they will call Steve “HEMBURGAH” Martin back ..What a shame

    1. I agree completely—Fallon is simply unwatchable. He’s unfunny, too smarmy and frankly, overrated beyond belief.

    2. Lorne Michaels might be a good producer, but Jimmy Fallon is his long time butt muncher. They come as a package………..

      1. So basically he is the epitome of everything that Lorne Michaels produces, boring and predicatable.

    3. Fallon would have been a good host but regardless of who they choose in the end, I doubt anyone could be worse than Chris Rock.

  6. Are you kidding me??! Fallon is like Chauncey Gardner in Being There. An empty suit. He is so obviously scripted and barely able to read the cue cards naturally. The class and stature of the Oscars, at least what was once the Oscars, and it was his turn?? The grab for younger eyeballs means everything obviously. Nor is he worthy of the Tonight Show franchise. At least Carson’s Tonight Show franchise… What about Owen Wilson to host the Oscars?

    1. I’d never thought of it before, but Owen Wilson could work well. He’s well-liked by audiences (even the red states), he can be very funny, he’s not a polarizing figure, and he’s a past nominee so he has the pedigree to looks like he belongs up there. He’s in his 40’s but younger audiences like him. Why not?

  7. Am I the only one thrilled to see Sharek finally leave? He made more lousy decisions than any President in Academy history. And now this bush league stunt with Jimmy Fallon?

    Here’s your hat Tom. Seeya.

  8. Thank god Sherack is out. After the Brett Ratner debacle and now this tone deaf maneuver, it sounds like he wasn’t far off from offering the show to Ashton Kutcher and Thrashlab to produce, or some equally baffling choice.

  9. Kimmel should be allowed to do it he’d be great. His after-Oscar shows are always funny and he deserves the chance especially because he does his show right across the street from the Oscars.

  10. What’s wrong with Billy Crystal and Brian Grazer doing it again? Keep it stable for the audience, switching new host this year is not a good idea, it’s unstable and people like familiarity, thge year before Franco / Hattaway was a disaster, the last year switching host again on your audience and now switch again? It”s too unstable, keep Billy Crystal for a while and Brian Grazer producing…..ratings will go back up if you keep things consistent…..don’t switch now….too confusing for your audience and they will wonder why the Oscars can’t get it together and have new host every year…..don’t let your audience see your flaws…keep Billy Crystal and Brian Grazer again for a while and see what happens….if something is not broken , don’t fix it!! Leve it alone if it’s working fine….

    1. I agree, Billy Crystal is the gold standard, Misch & Grazer, cool guys. Hawk too. Keep it going, it’s a good flow.

  11. Sherak the Rat is a perfect moniker for this clown..Fallon would have been awful as a host, so just go with someone established and can resonate a nice audience in the process and ratings-wise can garner interest in the otherwise long and tedious broadcast. Glad those plans of his fell through. Besides, how Fallon continues to have a job is beyond comprehension, but it is NBC however.

  12. Patton Oswalt would be great at this, especially if The Hobbit (if it’s any good) and TDKR get attention with expanded Best Picture categories.

  13. Haters gonna hate. Jimmy Fallon is hilarious. Especially his musical stuff, a side I’d never seen before. True he leans on Steve Higgins and The Roots on his show, but that’s called a strong supporting cast.

    Hopefully NBC won’t try to give him the Tonight Show; let Leno croak in the chair.

    PS: Carson’s Tonight Show has been dead for over 25 years.

    1. Yup. Conan leans on Andy Richter just as much as Fallon does on Higgins and the Roots. And Leno’s never going to leave the Tonight Show after that debacle. His corpse will be buried in the studio itself.

      1. Micah, I was referring to a poster above who stated that Jimmy Fallon wasn’t a fit successor to “Carson’s Tonight Show” (his words).

        So it’s 20 years since Carson’s last broadcast. Nitpicking on an internet message board, how can I be as cool as you?

  14. Steve Carrell really should be considered. He appeals to a wide demographic, especially younger audiences, and is naturally funny. He would be a really smart candidate.

  15. Fallon is wonderful where he is. He is not an Oscar host. I like JIm Carrey and Ricky Gervais together…. now THAT would be interesting

  16. If they are masochists they go with Ricky Gervais or perhaps Charlie Sheen to draw the morbid curiosity crowd. Gary Busey, anyone?

    They want a stately presence? Ok, how bout Barack Obama when his term is up in Jan.? Ok maybe that is too sarcastic.

    You need presence and frankly I can’t think of any leading talent who can do it.

    I think you go with a wild card outside of Hollywood that has wide appeal in a manner say of having the grand marshal of the tournament of roses parade. Kermit the Frog, anyone?

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