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Academy President John Bailey: Why Kevin Hart Is the Right Choice to Host the Oscars

Kevin Hart is ready for his Oscar close-up.

And now the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president John Bailey tells Variety that he’s “very excited” to see what the funny man will do when he makes his hosting debut next year.

“First of all, he’s a very kind of warm and loving and lovable person,” Bailey said at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures celebration of the restored Saban Building. “He’s also wanted to do this for many years. He’s been very clear how he felt about it and that’s very heartening to us.”

Bailey dismissed nay-sayers who believe that the hosting gig is a thankless job. “I’m sorry, but there are a lot of people like Kevin who have dreamed of doing this,” he said. “Life is a risk. You go out on that stage and you don’t know whether you’re going to bomb or be a smash. It’s like the opening night of a Broadway play except we only play for one night.”

The Oscars don’t happen until Feb. 27, but Bailey says Hart won’t only be working on his hosting responsibilities. “I think he’s going to surround himself with people who also are going to be appealing like him,” he said. “I think some of the presenters and guests are going to be his friends.”

Hart announced on Instagram on Monday afternoon to his 65.9 million followers that he snagged the hosting gig. “For years I have been asked if I would ever host the Oscars and my answer was always the same,” he wrote alongside a photo of the iconic gold Oscar statuette. “I said the it would be the opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian and that it will happen when it’s supposed to. I am so happy to say that the day has finally come for me to host the Oscars. I am blown away simply because this has been a goal on my list for a long time.”

Bailey believes the “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” star’s enthusiasm will be infectious to those inside the Dolby Theatre on the big night and to viewers watching the ceremony on television: “How can you not be excited by someone who’s excited about it?”

Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 22. The ceremony will air live on ABC on Feb. 24.

“I think Kevin will do a really good job,” former Academy president Hawk Koch, who was also at last night’s Saban Building event, told Variety. “He’s funny. He’s hip. I think a lot of people really like him. Audiences have so many things to choose from today and to have someone who isn’t on television every minute…I thought Jimmy Kimmel did a great job the last two years but you see him five nights a week.”

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