Comedian Jimmy Kimmel to return as Oscars host in 2023

By Rami Ayyub

(Reuters) – Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel will host the 2023 Oscars ceremony, organizers said on Monday, choosing a veteran emcee for Hollywood’s most prestigious showcase a year after actor Will Smith upended the event by slapping presenter Chris Rock.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hopes Kimmel, a popular U.S. comedian who hosted the Oscars in 2017 and 2018, will help boost slumping TV viewership and bring decorum to the event after Smith’s outburst distracted from the evening’s honors last year.

Last year’s broadcast on Walt Disney Co’s [DIS.N] ABC network received the event’s second-lowest viewership on record. But video of Smith slapping Rock’s face on stage after the comedian made a joke about the actor’s wife was shared widely on social media and dominated news headlines for days.

“Being invited to host the Oscars for a third time is either a great honor or a trap,” Kimmel said in a statement. “Either way, I am grateful to the Academy for asking me so quickly after everyone good said no.”

The ceremony will be held on March 12 at its longtime home, Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre.

“Jimmy is the perfect host to help us recognize the incredible artists and films of our 95th Oscars,” Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang said in a statement.

“His love of movies, live TV expertise, and ability to connect with our global audiences will create an unforgettable experience for our millions of viewers worldwide,” they said.

Smith, who won best actor for his role in “King Richard” less than an hour after the incident with Rock, has publicly apologized to the comedian. He is banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years, but is still eligible to be nominated and win.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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