Oscars 2019: Kevin Hart quits as host amid tweets row

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Kevin Hart: “I sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community”

US comedian and actor Kevin Hart says he has stepped down from hosting the 2019 Oscars following a controversy over homophobic tweets.

He said he did not want to be a distraction and that he was “sorry he had hurt people”.

The choice of Hart for host was only announced on Tuesday.

But tweets from a decade ago emerged of apparent anti-gay slurs, sparking calls for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to drop him.

Kevin Hart had said hosting the Oscars was “a goal on my list for a long time”.

But in a tweet late on Thursday he said he had chosen to step down “because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists”.

He said: “I sincerely apologise to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words of the past.”

When he revealed that he would be host, Hart said it was the “opportunity of a lifetime for me as a comedian” and that “my mom is smiling from ear to ear right now”.

Earlier on Thursday it had appeared he would try to ride out the storm.

In an Instagram post he spoke out against the “negative energy” of the criticism, saying “stop searching for reasons to be angry”.

He said he was almost 40 years old and was “in love with the man I’m becoming”.

In a later video he said he had been called by the academy and asked to apologise or another host would be found. “I chose to pass. I passed on the apology,” he said, repeating that the issue of the tweets had been addressed in the past.

He appeared to later change his mind and issue an apology as he stood down.

Parks and Recreation actor Billy Eichner welcomed the news on Twitter.

“As one of very few openly gay men in comedy who’s fortunate enough to work as much as I do, I will always fight for my LGBTQ community to get the respect we deserve,” he said.

But others online expressed their disappointment about Hart stepping down.

Who might take over?

Actress Busy Philipps wasted no time in suggesting she should host the ceremony instead.

Or, failing that, she said, any female host would be preferable.

The Oscars has been hosted by women before – such as Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Hathaway, who co-anchored with James Franco.

Other suggestions put forward on social media included Daily Show host Trevor Noah, RuPaul, Justin Timberlake, and Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph.

But potential new hosts may be reluctant to take on the job.

The role has thrown up problems for a number of past hosts and the Hollywood Reporter has called it “the least wanted job in Hollywood“.

The Oscars will take place in Los Angeles on 24 February 2019.

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