Co­me­dian Kevin Hart steps down as Os­cars host

The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - NEWS - JAKE COYLE

Just two days af­ter be­ing named host of the Acad­emy Awards, Kevin Hart stepped down fol­low­ing an out­cry over past ho­mo­pho­bic tweets by the co­me­dian.

Cap­ping a swift and dra­matic fall­out, Mr. Hart wrote on Twit­ter just af­ter mid­night on Fri­day that he was with­draw­ing as Os­cars host be­cause he didn’t want to be a dis­trac­tion. “I sin­cerely apol­o­gize to the LGBTQ com­mu­nity for my in­sen­si­tive words from my past,” Mr. Hart wrote.

Mr. Hart, who is in Aus­tralia for a com­edy tour, also tweeted on Fri­day morn­ing: “The ul­ti­mate mea­sure of a man is not where he stands in mo­ments of com­fort and con­ve­nience, but where he stands at times of chal­lenge and con­tro­versy. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Ear­lier on Thurs­day evening, the co­me­dian had re­fused to apol­o­gize for tweets that resur­faced af­ter he was an­nounced as Os­cars host on Tues­day. In a video on In­sta­gram, Mr. Hart said the Acad­emy of Mo­tion Pic­tures Arts and Sci­ences gave him an ul­ti­ma­tum: apol­o­gize or “we’re go­ing to have to move on and find an­other host.”

“I chose to pass on the apol­ogy,” Mr. Hart said. “The rea­son why I passed is be­cause I’ve ad­dressed this sev­eral times.”

The film acad­emy didn’t re­spond to mes­sages on Thurs­day evening.

Mr. Hart has since deleted some of the anti-gay tweets, mostly dated from 20092011. But they had al­ready been screen-cap­tured and been shared on­line.

In 2011, he wrote in a since-deleted tweet: “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daugh­ters doll house I’m go­ing 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.’ “

In an ear­lier post Thurs­day, Mr. Hart wrote on In­sta­gram that crit­ics should “stop be­ing neg­a­tive” about his ear­lier anti-gay re­marks.

“I’m al­most 40 years old. If you don’t be­lieve that peo­ple change, grow, evolve? I don’t know what to tell you,” said Mr. Hart, who added, in all-caps: “I love ev­ery­body.”

Mr. Hart’s at­ti­tudes about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity were also a well-known part of his stand-up act. In the 2010 spe­cial Se­ri­ously Funny, he said “one of my big­gest fears is my son grow­ing up and be­ing gay.”

“Keep in mind, I’m not ho­mo­pho­bic, I have noth­ing against gay peo­ple, do what you want to do, but me, be­ing a het­ero­sex­ual male, if I can pre­vent my son from be­ing gay, I will,” Mr. Hart said.

GLAAD, the ad­vo­cacy group for LGBTQ rights, said on Thurs­day that it reached out to Os­cars broad­caster ABC, the Acad­emy of Mo­tion Pic­tures Arts and Sci­ences, and Mr. Hart’s man­age­ment to “dis­cuss Kevin’s anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and record.”

Co­me­dian and ac­tor Billy Eichner said “a sim­ple, au­then­tic apol­ogy show­ing any bit of un­der­stand­ing or re­morse would have been so sim­ple.”

It’s not the first time an Os­cars host has been de­railed by anti-gay re­marks. Ahead of the 2012 Acad­emy Awards, pro­ducer Brett Rat­ner, who had been paired with host Ed­die Mur­phy, re­signed days af­ter us­ing a gay slur at a film screen­ing. Mr. Mur­phy soon af­ter ex­ited, as well.

That year, a tried-and-true Os­cars vet­eran – Billy Crys­tal – jumped in to save the show, host­ing for his eighth time. This time, spec­u­la­tion has al­ready been ram­pant that few in Hol­ly­wood want the gig, for which few win glow­ing re­views.

The film acad­emy moved up this year’s cer­e­mony to Feb. 24, giv­ing pro­duc­ers lit­tle time to find a re­place­ment.

At a Hol­ly­wood event on Thurs­day night, co­me­dian Kathy Grif­fin, whose ca­reer suf­fered last year when she posted a photo on so­cial me­dia that looked like a be­headed U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, said Mr. Hart messed up, yet had em­pa­thy for the sit­u­a­tion.

“He wrote that tweet eight years ago when gay mar­riage wasn’t even le­gal yet, so we all do things. God knows in my 23 spe­cials I’ve said heinously in­ap­pro­pri­ate things,” she said.

Ms. Grif­fin hoped Mr. Hart’s de­par­ture would open the door for a woman co­me­dian to host the show.

“I want more women to host the Os­cars and in the en­tire his­tory of the Os­cars, they’ve only been hosted by three women, three times and so we haven’t lev­elled the play­ing field yet,” she said.

Terry Crews, who de­scribed Mr. Hart as a “brother,” said he re­spected Mr. Hart’s de­ci­sion to walk away from the show.

“I’m thank­ful that he ac­knowl­edged things that maybe weren’t right, and he’ll come back from this,” Mr. Crews said. “We do have to ad­mit our guilt and say, ‘ Hey I messed up and let’s fix this thing.’ I think that he will do that, and he has al­ways done that.”

I chose to pass on the apol­ogy. The rea­son why I passed is be­cause I’ve ad­dressed this sev­eral times. KEVIN HART CO­ME­DIAN

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