As Hollywood wrestles with what to do about the upcoming Oscars telecast following the Kevin Hart controversy, one writer thinks he knows the perfect host: veteran actor James Woods.
In a Saturday op-ed piece for the New York Post, media writer Jon Levine argues that Woods, 71, could draw millions of new and old viewers to the annual Hollywood gala during an era when award shows of all kinds are facing declining ratings and accusations of anti-conservative bias.
Woods, a Trump-loving conservative, has gained a following in recent years by bashing critics of the president and liberals in general on Twitter. He currently has 1.9 million followers.
“Yes, there would be 'outrage,'" Levine writes. “Hollywood’s Jacobins of propriety would express their horror. Screenshots of trollish old tweets (and there have been many) would make the rounds. Words like 'racist' and 'sexist' would fly a mile a minute. But those costs would be a pittance compared to the millions of new viewers he’d bring in (along with the old viewers who’d be excited to see something different for a change).”
Levine cites the current climate of political correctness, noting that comic legends like Joan Rivers, Don Rickles and even Jerry Seinfeld would not “escape today’s censors.”
“So, in that spirit, why not go full bore with James Woods? Embracing the offensive and learning to laugh at ourselves should be things that bring us together,” he writes.
The Oscars were sent into crisis mode in December when comedian Hart was selected to host the 91st Academy Awards, scheduled for Feb. 24. Within 24 hours, several of Hart's years-old tweets and jokes, which some had deemed anti-gay, had resurfaced.
LGBTQ groups immediately called for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to rescind Hart's hosting invite.
In one of the tweets, Hart wrote: “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.”
Woods has also come under fire for several tweets and was even temporarily locked out of Twitter for a satirical meme encouraging men not to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.
In 2017, he likened a child to a serial killer in what many called a transphobic tweet.
"This is sweet. Wait until this poor kid grows up, realizes what you've done, and stuffs both of you dismembered into a freezer in the garage," he tweeted.
He also used the social media platform to help a veteran contemplating suicide. The actor offered to talk with the veteran privately.
“Andrew, don’t feel embarrassed that you reached out in the darkness. Nobody thinks you’re foolish for that. You know every one of us reaching out to you right now has some depression, too. I’ll say it. I do,” Woods wrote. "I’m following you now, so you can DM me. We can talk privately. Or we can talk openly right here. Lot of people worried about you right now.
“So think about this. A lot of vets, I understand, have come to where you are tonight. If you could just push this decision off tonight, at least, maybe you would also inspire another vet to seek help. You could save another man, too. By waiting to do this.”
Amid the outcry over his selection as Oscars host, Hart, 39, apologized to the LGBTQ community and stepped down from the hosting gig. He is now “evaluating” retaking the job after Ellen DeGeneres told him she reached out to the Academy on his behalf and they said they wanted him to host.
“I called the Academy today because I really want you to host the Oscars,” DeGeneres told Hart in her talk show that aired Friday. “We want him to host, whatever we can do, we’d be thrilled,” DeGeneres said the Academy told her. “The Academy is saying what can we do to make this happen.”
Hart told DeGeneres he was still angry about how the tweets were brought up less than a day after he was given the hosting job.
“This is stuff I have addressed. I’m not going to pay it any mind because when you feed into that stuff you only add more fuel to the fire,” Hart said. “You have put a lot of things on my mind. Leaving here, I’m promising you I’m evaluating this conversation … Let me assess, just sit in the space and really think.”
Or the Academy could take a cue from writer Levine and give the opportunity to someone like Woods.