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Jimmy Fallon as Oscar host would be a minefield for ABC, Academy

August 02, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • Talk show host and comedian Jimmy Fallon is seen in his office at NBC Studios in 2011.
Talk show host and comedian Jimmy Fallon is seen in his office at NBC Studios… (Jennifer S. Altman / For…)

There is both a Facebook page and a Twitter page dedicated to promoting the idea of NBC late-night star Jimmy Fallon as an Oscar host.

But its hard to imagine ABC letting this happen without a fight.

That's because ABC has its own late night host in Jimmy Kimmel, who competes with Fallon. Kimmel is hosting the Emmy Awards on ABC this year and thus wouldn't be able to do the Oscars anyway, but that doesn't mean the network wants his chief rival to get the gig.

TIMELINES: Oscars 1929-2012

The idea of Fallon as host sprung from Tom Sherak, whose term as president of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences recently ended. Sherak tried to land Fallon as host of the Oscars, along with "Saturday Night Live"and "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" executive producer Lorne Michaels as one of the awards show's producers.

Although ABC's deal with the Academy does not include veto power over the host, its concerns would be listened to closely. After all, the network pays more than $70 million annually for the rights to Hollywood's biggest awards show. It seems unlikely that the Academy would risk alienating ABC and its parent, Walt Disney Co., over Jimmy Fallon.

On the one hand, one can argue that ABC should recognize that Fallon would be a good host and perhaps boost ratings for an awards show whose audience has shrunk in recent years. It's not like people don't already know what network Fallon is on or that his ratings will suddenly skyrocket because he hosted the Academy Awards.

The flip side, though, is that ABC needs to protect its own talent. Even if Kimmel isn't the Oscar host and is already hosting the Emmy Awards this year, having Fallon come to do a huge show on ABC could leave a bad taste in Kimmel's mouth. By pushing back, ABC is reassuring Kimmel that he's their guy. If CBS had the Oscars, you can bet that there's no way Jay Leno would host them.

Unfortunately for ABC, aside from Kimmel it doesn't really have anyone on its bench whom it can offer as a viable host, unless Katie Couric wants to give it a try.

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