Since Kevin Hart stepped down as host, the Oscars have been plagued by the apparent inability to find a replacement, because it’s not exactly a plum gig. They’ve had so much trouble, in fact, that it’s looking like the ceremony will be hostless for just the second time in history—so, to ramp up excitement for the flailing awards (for which Lady Gaga also had to step in to fix a certain matter involving the Best Song award), they’ve decided to bring in, well, everyone else.
On Monday, the Motion Picture Academy announced its initial roster of awards presenters, and the list is kind of dizzying. Jennifer Lopez, Chris Evans, Tessa Thompson, and Amandla Stenberg are all slated to give out awards, per E! News, in addition to Charlize Theron, Brie Larson, Whoopi Goldberg, former Saturday Night Live cast members Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey, and Crazy Rich Asians costars Constance Wu and Awkwafina. And all this, in addition to a very nervous Bradley Cooper singing “Shallow” opposite Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and SZA doing “All the Stars” from Black Panther, Emily Blunt not singing her Mary Poppins song, and Jennifer Hudson performing “I’ll Fight” from RBG. (All of them will reportedly perform abbreviated versions of their songs.)
In previous years, the Oscars have honored the previous year’s winners by having them back to present awards to the next generation of victors; nothing like staring down your own mortality by giving away your award. This year, though, they declined to reach out to the likes of Frances McDormand (who, based on the Met Gala, every red carpet needs a little bit more of) and Allison Janney, hoping higher-profile presenters would lead to higher ratings. Which, maybe? But are people going to tune in just to hear Jennifer Lopez say, “The nominees for…”? (This will, however, prevent another Brie Larson-meets-Casey Affleck moment.)
In any case, the search for presenters has reportedly also caused some friction with the Screen Actors’ Guild. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Motion Picture Academy had been discouraging actors from accepting other presenting gigs ahead of the Oscars—especially the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, thus the tension. “The apparent attempt by the Academy to keep our members from presenting on their own awards show is utterly outrageous and unacceptable,” SAG-AFTRA wrote in a statement. “Actors should be free to accept any offer to participate in industry celebrations.”
It looks increasingly like a fit of desperation. But, as one anonymous source told the LAT: “The Oscars have to do something. Otherwise, they’re going to become increasingly irrelevant.”