It would be the biggest comeback in Hollywood history — and a slap in the face to Will Smith.
Speculation is mounting that Chris Rock will be named the host of next year’s Oscars — after being spectacularly smacked down at this year’s ceremony by Best Actor winner Smith.
ABC’s President of Entertainment Craig Erich told Deadline on Tuesday that he is open to having Rock, 57, helm the next awards show. Erich also said next year’s show, which will be held in March, will be “even better.”
The broadcast exec told the publication that he was happy with the ratings for this year, but the decision to have Rock host next year would likely increase viewership astronomically.
“Obviously there was a lot of controversy [surrounding this year’s broadcast], which overshadowed a lot of the positive things about the show, but I was really happy with the program,” Erich stated. “It was the biggest bounce-back of any award show this season.”
Ratings for this year’s broadcast were up 58%, with an average 16.6 million viewers tuning in. In comparison, a paltry 9.8 million Americans watched the 2021 show.
Many people tuned in to the show after Smith, 53, slapped Rock after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia.
However, Erwich insisted that viewer numbers were already up before the slap took place, stating: “Even before that very unfortunate moment, the show started off up year over year, and we came back in a big way.”
The ceremony was hosted by Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall, with the ABC boss asserting that trio delivered for the network.
Erwich said of the show’s producers: “If you look at what they were trying to do, which is really bring entertainment back to the program, they had three amazing hosts, clips, and incredible musical performances, I thought it was a great way for the show to reclaim its place on the mantle.”
Rock has not responded to the new hosting rumors, and has been keeping a relatively low profile in the wake of Smith’s on-stage assault.
However, he did reference the slap during an appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in London last Thursday night, saying: “
“I’m OK, if anybody was wondering,” Rock quipped. “I got most of my hearing back . . . [But] anyone who says ‘words hurt’ — has never been punched in the face.”
The funnyman said he wouldn’t be speaking further about the incident — unless he received a hefty check from a streaming service.
“People expect me to talk about the bulls – – t. I’m not going to talk about it right now. I’ll get to it eventually — on Netflix,” he joked.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism