As the #OscarsSoWhite situation continued to dominate the Oscars last week, there was much speculation about whether or not Chris Rock would step down as host. On the weekend, one of the producers of the show, Reginald Hudlin, seemed to confirm that Chris would move ahead with hosting and that his monologue is being retooled to address the controversy:
"Chris is hard at work. He and his writing staff locked themselves in a room. As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, 'I'm throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.' Chris is that thorough. He's that brilliant, and I have 1000 percent confidence that he will deliver something that people will be talking about for weeks. You should expect [#OscarsSoWhite jokes]," Hudlin told ET. "And, yes, the Academy is ready for him to do that. They're excited about him doing that. They know that's what we need. They know that's what the public wants, and we deliver what the people want."
Which kinda got people excited about what, exactly, Chris will do….resulting in great ratings for the Academy?
Turns out Reginald may not have been updated on Chris’s strategy. Because his publicist, Leslie Sloane, released a firm statement today about Chris’s plans for his monologue:
"Regarding Reggie Hudlin's comments about Chris Rock's Oscar hosting duties, neither he nor anyone else speaks for Chris. Chris has made no decisions about the content of the show. All will be revealed on February 28th. We will not comment further on this.”
The first takeaway here is that Chris Rock is in for the Oscars. Because if he wasn’t in for the Oscars, what’s to reveal on February 28th, right? The second takeaway here is that Chris wants you to know that whatever he says on February 28th won’t be preapproved by the Academy. And that’s an important note. Because it takes away from the effectiveness of his flame if you go into it believing that it’s been lit by the very people he’s trying to set on fire. That night, Chris Rock will be speaking as an independent, and not a member of the Academy.
Again, though, as I mentioned last week, if those ratings are BIG, if a lot of people end up watching to see just how sharp he is on the diversity discussion – and it’s not like he’s afraid of being sharp – will he end up with the credit? Or does he throw down his monologue and then instruct everyone at home to stop watching?