Prodded by Ellen DeGeneres, comic Kevin Hart says he’ll reconsider his decision to step down as host of the Academy Awards.
Hart had backed away two days after being named host last month when some homophobic tweets he had made a decade ago resurfaced. But DeGeneres urged him to host the show during an interview that aired Friday on her talk show.
The motion picture Academy has not named a replacement host for its Feb. 24 awards show.
“You have grown,” DeGeneres told him. “You have apologized. You’re apologizing again right now. You’ve done it. Don’t let these people win. Host the Oscars.”
She applied subtle pressure by saying after one commercial break, “We’re back with this year’s Oscars host, Kevin Hart.”
Hart told her that “you have put a lot of things on my mind” and that he would think about their conversation.
The LGBTQ watchdog organization GLAAD on Friday reiterated its position that Hart not step down as host but instead use the platform to “send an unequivocal message of acceptance to LGBTQ youth.”
If there’s a campaign to get him back, it couldn’t have started more slickly: on the hugely successful talk show run by one of Hollywood’s most prominent gay celebrities, who hosted the Oscars herself in 2007.
DeGeneres said she called the Academy this week to urge that Hart be brought back, and was told that officials would be “thrilled” if he did. An Academy representative did not immediately return messages for comment.
DeGeneres received some resistance on social media, with some commenters saying that Hart’s homophobic jokes were a legitimate issue for discussion, and it wasn’t a case of people maliciously trying to hurt him.
DeGeneres responded to critics on Twitter: “I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances.”
The Oscars are looking for something to juice Hollywood’s biggest night, after the ceremony drew its smallest audience ever in 2018.