ABC President Says The Oscars Went Host-Less To Cut Time [TCA 2019]

ABC President Karey Burke gave her first executive session for the Television Critics Association today. Many of the questions posed to her centered around the Oscars telecast, which has been in flux since late 2018. Since Kevin Hart stepped down, the Academy decided not to have a host and just have presenters. Burke said this decision was made not due to the Hart controversy, but simply to keep the running time of the show down."I was just coming into the job and I think there wasn't messiness beyond the Kevin Hart situation," Burke said. She added:

"After that, it was pretty cool that we were going to stay the course. There was an idea we ere just going to have presenters host the Oscars and we all got on board pretty quickly. The main goal, which I was told, was the Academy promised ABC last year after a very lengthy telecast to keep the show to three hours. The producers wisely decided to not have a host and to go back to having the presenters and movies be stars. That would be the best way to keep the show at three hours."

Burke was also excited that the popular artists nominated for Best Original Song, including Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar, would bring a lot of viewers to the Oscars telecast. The rumor that only two songs would be performed was false."That is not correct," Burke clarified. "All songs will be performed. We have a phenomenal music show if you just want to put that on. I think that element will be very exciting."So does that mean Gaga is performing her song herself? That remains unclear. "I think I have to wait for the Academy to announce these things," Burke said.The box office tallies of this year's nominees also set a new precedent for nominees. There's not only the record set by Black Panther, but movies like Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born were juggernauts too."I for one am excited because at no time have there been three movies nominated for best picture each grossing over $200 million," Burke said. "I think people will tune in because these are popular movies.This has been the most uncertain year the Oscars have ever faced when it comes to changes and scandals, but Burke sees a silver lining."To me, that's evidence of how relevant the Oscars still are, that people are talking about these things and caring about these things," she said. "I'm happy that it's part of the conversation, that there is speculation and curiosity. The lack of clarity about the Oscars has kept the Oscars in the conversation."Ratings for the Oscars have been in a steady decline, so boosting them back up is an important goal. However, the changing television landscape has impacted all awards shows."Awards shows ratings are down across the board, so it is a challenge, one that I think we have to keep very vigilant about, making sure the show stays relevant and entertaining and at a pace and a length that's good for the audience," Burke said. "As long as I'm here and it's on my watch, it's something I'm going to pay close attention to."The Oscars air live on February 24 on ABC.