The Oscars began with a joke about The Slap, and we heard a few others along the way, but by and large, this year’s broadcast avoided that vibe. Executive producer Molly McNearny had forecasted as much (the hope to be comedic and move on) before the broadcast. She’s now revealing that there was actually much more in the works, and these jokes would have been more cutthroat.
However, McNearny is letting the world know that Kimmel and his writing crew decided to pull back for a few reasons. That includes moving past the incident (which is still fueling offshoot drama), so that this year’s show could stand on its own, and also, they wanted to defer to Chris Rock to tell the “harder” jokes. He certainly did that a week prior while taking the gloves off for his Selective Outrage special. Here’s why that decision happened, via Variety:
Kimmel and his writers decided not to go harder with slap jokes because they felt it was Chris Rock’s story to tell. “We didn’t want to make this year all about last year,” McNearney said. “I cannot tell you how many Will Smith jokes we had that then we got rid of. We think that only the best for that room made it. There were certainly some that went harder, but we didn’t think that was our place to do that. That should be Chris Rock, not us.
“But we really liked the idea of making fun of the reaction to it last year,” she added. “I think we’re all still in a bit of shock of how that went.”
Fair enough. That Slap may have saved the Oscars the year prior, but it makes sense that the broadcast would want to prove that it could pull in viewership without that brand of drama. As well, Walt Disney TV alternative head Rob Mills told Variety that he did worry about HBO pushing forth with their The Last Of Us finale on the same evening. “It felt like HBO was saying ‘We’re not scared of the Oscars,’” Mills suggested. However, Mills also insisted, “Our ratings are up. I think we’ve proven that the Oscars are still the defining event in entertainment TV during the season.”
Perhaps the Oscar ratings are “up” over last year (with over 18 million viewers on broadcast night), but The Last Of Us ratings could be even higher when the final numbers shake out. And both entities are doing just fine, which is a fine place to be in the TV and film realm.