Oscar Producers Blast Trade Story That Called Neil Patrick Harris An “Also-Ran” And Not First Choice To Host

An anonymously sourced Hollywood Reporter story Wednesday headlined  “Also-ran Academy Host?” in their print edition gossip column, as well as an expanded online version blatantly pete_hammond_300x100headlining “Neil Patrick Harris Wasn’t Academy’s  First Choice To Host The Oscars,” has been flatly denied  by Oscar showoscars1-290x290__130218205914-275x275 producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

The story, credited in the online version to writer Seth Abramovich, claims 2014 host Ellen DeGeneres was “begged” by the producers to host again but refused the offer. The piece then said Chris Rock, who shares DeGeneres’ ICM Partners agent Eddy Yablans, was “next on the wish list” but a deal “failed to materialize.” The story also said the producers even approached Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who also said ‘no.’ ” THR then says that only after these rejections was Harris — a four-time Emmy winner as Tony host and two-time Emmy host — offered the gig.

Reliable sources with knowledge of the 2015 Oscar host discussions say although names like Louis-Dreyfus may have been floated in” initial” discussions, no offers were ever made, and they never spoke to Rock or made an offer to him.

In a statement to Deadline, Zadan and Meron, now producing their third consecutive Academy Awards show, diplomatically but clearly attack the report as uninformed as to how the process of choosing a host is conducted. “After every Oscar show there is always a discussion as to who will host the next one. Many names are discussed and sometimes even floated without there being any formal offers. At times, these casual discussions take on a life of their own, and some are eager to break a story without knowing the facts. Neil Patrick Harris received the Academy’s formal offer. He is the perfect choice for the Oscars and will be the consummate host,” the pair said. In other words, the Academy made only one formal offer this year and that was to Harris.

oscars-producers-blog630-jpg_043502It shouldn’t be shocking to hear that other names might have been discussed. That’s par for the course and it wouldn’t be surprising if one of them was DeGeneres, who generated strong ratings and lots of water-cooler talk with her now-infamous selfie photo and pizza delivery bit. But Zadan and Meron emphasize the offer went to Harris. Period. And certainly using the term “also-ran” is  way off the truth of the matter, indicating it was a desperate choice. But rather than just ignore the story which can take on a life of its own on the Internet, it’s also not surprising that they would want to protect their new host against this kind of gossipy reporting, which goes on to suggest that ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel would be the better choice even though there is no evidence his name was ever floated.

In a543f770b5e186n appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America last week, Harris said he had no idea he was up for the job. “I thought weirdly because I’d hosted other shows that that was a strike against me a little bit, because they had gone with people before, Seth McFarlane and stuff who were sort of new, but then with Ellen last year doing such a good job. The awards shows, you can’t really decide that you want to host them. They call you and ask you if you will. Even if you pitch yourself for it, it feels desperate so you just have to hope that the spotlight hits you,” he said, adding that he knows Meron and Zadan “very well and they asked me to do it.” Zadan and Meron also affirm “we have known Neil Patrick Harris his entire adult life.”

Another reason Harris thinks he may have gotten the job  is that, in addition to those proven hosting abilities, he also has serious film cred this year with a supporting role in Oscar contender Gone Girl. A movie industry connection is more times than not a big plus when looking for a host. He was thrilled to be asked of course and even did a video in which he placed ‘Hosting The Oscars’  on his bucket list.

Hosting the Oscars can be a no-win job as you are always a target and it is the most high-profile gig of its kind, but I will bet Harris didn’t think the brickbats would start before he’s even got the first joke written.

The 87th Annual Academy Awards hosted  by Harris air on ABC on Sunday, February 22.

  1. i actually think that they should switch producers — this past telecast was so dull and badly produced — so badly paced.

  2. Sounds more like a dodge to me. The THR article didn’t say that anyone other than Harris received a formal offer, so they’re basically denying a claim that was never made.

  3. This is a non-story. Do you really think Seth McFarlane was first-choice to host last year? In 2012, Billy Crystal (and Brian Grazer) stepped in after Eddie Murphy (and Bret Ratner) pulled out, following the furore over Ratner’s comments on Howard Stern’s show. In 2011, Hathaway and Franco disastrously hosted – you think that pairing was the show’s first choice? And what about 2010. According to an article at the time in, the producers first approached Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. to host as a pair. So Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were “also rans.” Rarely in Hollywood do you get your first choice. But that’s not always a bad thing. Give NPH a chance. He’s great.

  4. It’s all in the choice of words. That no one received a formal offer doesn’t mean that they were not asked if they would be interested before the formal offer was made. Ellen was great last year. Jimmy Kimmel might have been good, too. Did anyone think of Jimmy Fallon? Or did he decline before even being officially or unofficially asked? With all the negative comments after the Oscars, I have to assume none of the aforementioned would want to do it.

  5. Well, I would never trust the opinions of any of us in the industry. When it comes to the ‘public’ watching, and enjoying, the Oscars we really need to stand back and shut the fuck up. No one ‘at home’ cares about who’s producing it, how the set is designed, or how many fucking cameras are shooting the show. It’s always over shot, over produced, and over hyped. The ‘average’ viewer wants to see stars, laugh a little, and watch the winners ‘act’ humbled by their win.

    That’s what my mom told me. :-)

      1. @Anon

        Really? Hate is such a powerful emotion. As someone who has counted on ‘the average viewer’ to help me payoff 4 homes, put 2 kids through college, fund my golf addiction, help me to drive a new Porsche 911 every year….I adore the ‘average viewer’. Regardless of how wrong, and tasteless, their programming choices may be — they’re always right.


  6. Neil Patrick Harris is a true showman and has proven it over the years. Everyone has their favorites to promote, and I’m sure there are other entertainers out there that could do a fine job. However, NPH is an awards show veteran who has shown he can hold his own throughout a long and varied program. He’s respected in the industry. Furthermore, although I love Ellen DeGeneres, her hosting last year fell far short off the mark. There were childish, inane parts to her pieces she attempted to present. Her bit towards Liza Minnelli was rude and disrespectful. Not funny at all. There were obvious lag times were nothing was being said from Ellen’s side on stage. You could tell from watching the audience that they didn’t get some of Ellen’s dialogue and looked shocked at some of it. The pizza bit, though original, seemed “put on” as an after thought. As if a last minute decision to make ratings or impress, which it did not. Frankly, almost the whole time during the show, it felt like Ellen “wasn’t really there”. Like a half-hearted attempt because she really didn’t want to be there. A big disappointment from her last stints as host. Neil Patrick Harris will be a breath of fresh air.

  7. NPH is literally a no brainer choice as host of the Oscars. He has proven time and time again that no one alive is a better awards host. My only surprise what took so long!

  8. The Hollywood Reporter is embarrassing getting their facts wrong and hijacking a story that Variety broke. Chris Rock was never approached for the gig. He was simply used in a ranking for a poll by Variety that showed Chris would be a better choice.

  9. Well Ellen has been there often enough it’s a difficult stressful job.
    So happy Nph will be a new look.
    Why has media , news turned into
    a gossip reporting. Go away tmz.

    Why is there no reporting about the
    women people in Hollywood event, pink event, and elle event????
    The run, etal……

  10. Bring back Hugh Jackman: a great showman/triple threat, plus he’s suave, elegant and oozes charm.

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