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Jimmy Kimmel on Hosting Oscars: Addressing Healthcare, Sexual Harassment, Last Year’s ‘Moonlight’ Debacle

Jimmy Kimmel has used his platform as a late night host to talk about healthcare issues — specifically children’s healthcare issues — often on his nightly series, but he doesn’t plan to use the platform of hosting the 90th Annual Oscars to address the same issues.

“I don’t intend to use the Oscars as a platform for healthcare,” he said at ABC’s Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena, Calif. Monday. “Not that I don’t think it’s something that’s important, but ultimately you have to remember why you’re there. It’s not about you. You’re there to entertain people who are there on the biggest night of their lives, and if it gets too heavy, then I think you’re getting away from that.”

While Kimmel stressed that the issue will always be important to him, it would take “something major” happening between now and March for it to come up in his monologue.

Noting that the “news does dictate” many of the jokes in the monologue, and therefore, he will be writing up until the minute before the show, Kimmel said he plans to take on sexual harassment — he just isn’t sure how.

“It’s two months from now, so it’s almost like getting into a hot tub or something: you can’t really know the temperature until you get there,” Kimmel said. “Two months ago Trump was opening the JFK assassination files, if you want to see how far away two months feels. [But] suffice it to say, I’m sure it will be a part of the subject matter.”

Kimmel noted the Oscars does tend to have more male writers than many: they have four female writers — including his wife, Molly McNeary, who is the head writer — to the seven men, not including himself. One of the additional challenges they have this season is if and how to callback to last year’s Best Picture debacle when the wrong title was mistakenly read first (and was later corrected to “Moonlight).

“I’ve never had great luck finding out where the line is exactly, but I think for me the challenge is that a million jokes have been made about this subject [so the challenge] is finding a fresh way to come at it,” Kimmel said.

Similarly, Kimmel noted that one of the reasons it can be hard for the audience in the room to sit through an awards show is because how much is planned.

“I think you’ve got to keep it interesting,” Kimmel said, citing bringing the people off the tour bus into last year’s show. “I don’t think you want everything all-buttoned down, and if you do, it will bore the audience, even in some subconscious way.”

The 90th Annual Academy Awards are live from Los Angeles, Calif. on Mar. 4 at 8pm ET/5pm PT on ABC.

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