Producers of the upcoming Academy Awards telecast may be caught between Chris Rock and a hard place.
The comic actor is facing pressure to bow out as host of the 88th annual Oscars — with less than six weeks to go before the Feb. 28 telecast — over the mounting calls for boycotting the awards in response to the lack of diversity among the Oscar nominees.
On Monday’s holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., both Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith announced they would not be attending the Academy Awards to protest a second straight year without a black actor receiving a single nomination.
“I don’t think Chris would bail — if anything, this gives him the world’s biggest platform and an excellent area for jokes that only he can do,” Dave Boone, who wrote nine Oscar telecasts and was the head writer for the 2015 edition, told the Daily News.
“Years ago when Whoopi was hosting, (scandal-scarred director Eli) Kazan was getting the lifetime achievement award. I gave her a line, ‘I thought the blacklist was me and Hattie McDaniel.’ At the time, it was a joke that only Whoopi could do.”
Rock has already started poking fun, dubbing the Oscars, “the white BET Awards,” in a tweet last week.
There is no precedent for a host to drop out this close to the telecast. Eddie Murphy famously dropped out as the scheduled host in early November 2011, a week after his Oscars producer Brett Ratner stepped down in the wake of an offensive tweet.
But Boone, who had been on board on those 84th Academy Awards but is not working on the latest installment, says there was enough time left to rally behind successor Billy Crystal.
“It’s an enormous undertaking that requires 100% attention. It would be a tough spot for anyone who would potentially step in now,” says Boone, a two-time Emmy winner, about the prospect of Rock stepping down.
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SOURCE: NY Daily News – JOE DZIEMIANOWICZ, ETHAN SACKS