January 4, 2019 / 6:11 PM / 8 months ago

Kevin Hart re-considering Oscars hosting job after DeGeneres endorsement

LOS ANGELES, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Kevin Hart, who stepped down as host of the Oscars following criticism over past anti-gay tweets, said he is evaluating his decision after popular comedian Ellen DeGeneres revealed she supported him in the role.

In an interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” released on Friday, DeGeneres said she recently called the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to advocate for Hart.

DeGeneres, who is openly gay and hosted the Oscars in 2007 and 2014, said the Academy, which organizes the ceremony, had responded that they would be “thrilled” to have him host the Feb. 24 awards telecast.

“We want him to host, whatever we can do, we’d be thrilled,” she said Academy officials had told her.

The Academy on Friday did not return a request for comment.

“When I leave here I promise you I’m evaluating this conversation,” Hart, an actor and comedian known for “Ride Along” and other films, told DeGeneres.

Hart announced in December that he was stepping down from hosting the Oscars and said he wanted to “sincerely apologize to the LGBT community for my insensitive words from my past.”

With less than two months before the ceremony, the most prestigious awards in the movie business, the Academy has not announced a replacement.

The actor told DeGeneres on Friday that “I know I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body. I know that I’ve addressed it.”

In one of his previous tweets, Hart described an actor’s picture as a “gay billboard for AIDS.” In another he said if his son were playing with a doll’s house, he would break it over his head and tell him to stop being gay.

DeGeneres called Hart “one of the smartest people I know, one of the funniest people I know,” and told him to ignore the backlash on the Internet from what she called “haters” who resurfaced the tweets from a decade ago.

“That’s a small group of people being very, very loud,” she said. “We are a huge group of people who love you and want to see you host the Oscars.”

“They are going to win if you don’t host the Oscars,” she added.

Hosting the Oscars is one of the most prestigious and difficult jobs in show business, navigating the expectations of the A-list audience in the theater and millions of people watching on television, with a combination of topical and insider jokes.

Hart, who is African-American, would have been one of just a handful of black Oscar hosts over the past 90 years, including Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and Sammy Davis Jr. (Reporting by Lisa Richwine)

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