The Oscars Likely to Have Multiple Hosts, Many A-Listers in the Conversation (EXCLUSIVE)

Dwayne Johnson - Selena Gomez - Kevin Hart

If you’re putting together the biggest awards show of the year and looking for ratings, what do you do when one host isn’t enough? Well, hire a few.

After ABC announced there will, in fact, be a host for the upcoming 94th Oscars, Variety has exclusively learned that the Academy is eyeing more than one host.

Over the past few weeks, the team behind the upcoming Oscars has reached out to multiple celebrities with the idea of putting together possible pairings. No hosts have been settled on and discussions are still in the early stages. The decision, which is still a ways away, will ultimately be made by the Academy, ABC and producer Will Packer.

The Academy and ABC declined to comment.

The Oscars haven’t had a host for the past three years (Jimmy Kimmel was the last host in 2018), and taking the emcee mantle solo can be a lot of pressure. With multiple talents bringing different energy and experience to the stage, the Oscars would be able to attract multiple audience demographics back into the world of red carpets, fashion and celebrating love for the movies.

With ratings on a steady decline for the past few years, the Academy is eager to revive the good old days of 50 million-plus viewers tuning in, as they did for the 1998 ceremony when “Titanic” dominated the evening.

There’s no official word if there is a cap to the number of hosts. The 1983 ceremony, with foursome of Walter Matthau, Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore and Richard Pryor, was one of the most-watched in history.

The Academy is definitely open to feedback, as shown by the informal poll on Twitter, asking, “If we asked you who would you want to host the Oscars, and this is strictly hypothetical, who would it hypothetically be?” Thousands of responses poured in, with buzzy talents raising their hands, including “Saturday Night Live” alum Leslie Jones and singer and personality Dionne Warwick.

Multiple sources say that newly-tapped Oscars producer Will Packer is the one who could turn the ship around. One individual familiar with ongoing creative discussions indicates that they know what Packer has planned for this year’s ceremony, saying, “If he can actually pull off what he’s planning for the show, this will be a game-changer for everybody.”

Despite buzzy names floating around on Hollywood wish lists, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Pete Davidson, Variety has learned some of the names that have actually come up in conversation.

The Rock: Not Happening

He’s the biggest movie star in the world, so it only makes sense the Academy would, of course, be interested in having Dwayne Johnson emcee the biggest night in movies, but Variety has learned that The Rock will not be able to host in 2022. According to sources inside the Oscars search this year, Johnson will be in production, so his busy schedule will prevent him from being able to take the gig. In fact, he’s been asked a handful of times in the past, but he’s never been able to do it, solely due to scheduling — which is no surprise, really, given the “Black Adam” star and producer’s slate, which now includes sequels to “Red Notice” and “Jungle Cruise” via his production company, Seven Bucks, and his many businesses, which include Zoa Energy drinks and Teremana, which became the fastest-selling tequila of all time.

Kevin Hart: Not Happening

In 2018, Kevin Hart was set to host the 91st Academy Awards, but stepped down amid outcry over earlier homophobic tweets resurfacing. Despite the controversy, insiders say that conversations about Hart hosting have again occurred, especially because Hart is close friends with producer Will Packer — but, Packer knew it wouldn’t be feasible anyway since Hart will soon be overseas shooting a film in Europe and not capable of clearing his production schedule for anything else, even the Oscars.

Jimmy Kimmel: Not Happening

Kimmel has hosted the Oscars twice, to mostly positive praise, but sources say the conversation to have the ABC comedian host again isn’t even on the table this year. There’s no bad blood: it’s just that it’s been done before and Kimmel is busy enough with his own late-night show every night. Maybe next time.

Tiffany Haddish: Probably Not Happening

Haddish has been in the news recently after she was arrested for a DUI in Georgia, but days before the arrest, insiders had already told Variety that it’s very unlikely Haddish would be hosting because she’s shooting back-to-back movies. The comedian has previously expressed her interest in hosting the show and she’s been a fan favorite to get the gig for years. This year, her name has come up again, especially since she worked with Packer on “Girls Trip.” However, a few years ago, she did tell Variety that she would want to host the award show, but not alone, so perhaps Haddish was predicting the Academy’s future plans to bring together multiple hosts? “I would love to do it one day with Maya or even with Will Arnett,” Haddish said in 2019, referencing Maya Rudolph. “I would love to do it with someone. I don’t need all that responsibility on my shoulders — it’s already hard enough being the queen.”

Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph: Approached in previous years but being considered.

Speaking of Rudolph…we’ve seen a snippet of this comedic threesome before, and they are always audience favorites. In the first year of the no-host Oscars, the three alums of “Saturday Night Live” took the stage together to present the first award to Regina King for supporting actress. It was during this time that the Academy discussed having the three helm the ceremony, but producers weren’t able to make it happen. Poehler spoke with Variety just this week saying she would be open to hosting but did not indicate that anything was in the works. “Oh, I think that’s a different deal. It’s an interesting time. So again, who knows…” Poehler said in a recent interview, talking about her new Sundance documentary. “Everything feels like it’s truly in flux in every way. I’m open to all things. I try to keep an open mind to all things.” Representatives for Fey and Rudolph say they have not been approached for the gig, but a source close to the production says they are on a long list of considerations.

Tom Holland and Zendaya: Massively Unlikely 

The Academy wants multiple hosts, and this would be a dream pairing for so many reasons. But, don’t count on Tom Holland and Zendaya hosting — at least not this year. Even though they’re starring in one of the biggest movies of all time (“Spider-Man: No Way Home” has brought in more than $1.6 billion), and would undoubtedly excite superhero fans, which could translate into big ratings for the telecast, realistically, the stars are probably too in demand. In a recent interview, Holland was asked if he’d want to host the Oscars and he said he was too busy with his press tour for “Uncharted” and then a TV show that starts production in March. Then, at second thought, the star exclaimed, “Of course, I would host the fucking Oscars!” When asked if he’d want his on-screen and real-life partner Zendaya to join him in potential hosting duties, he said he wasn’t sure of Zendaya’s schedule, but he could run it by her. “By myself would be great, and with someone I love would be even better,” Holland said. “I think a shared experience is always better than a solo experience.”

Holland also has a tight schedule, as he will be shooting “Crowded Room” in New York during the week of the ceremony.

Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez: Top of the Wish List 

This could be the winning combination. Former Oscar host Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short co-star on Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” — synergistic promotion for parent company Disney, which would love to see its streamer’s most-watched comedy touted on its network. Martin and Short are comedy legends, who would pair perfectly with Gomez, one of the most prominent stars in Young Hollywood, reaching viewers of all ages. A source tells Variety that “Only Murders” will be in production on its next season, which could pose problems — but that problem is easily solved when your bosses would gladly make a high-budget exception to shift around production to give its stars the most glamorous stage of the year. Hulu and ABC Entertainment president Craig Erwich recently told Variety that the trio is at the top of their wishlist, stating, “They have mass appeal. Everybody loves them. They’d be a dream. That said, there’s a lot of incredible talent we’re considering. We’re having ongoing conversations with Will and the Academy about it.”