As Hollywood gears up for the 91st Academy Awards, many fans are wondering if Whoopi Goldberg is secretly hosting the 2019 Oscars, despite the fact that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the event would be hostless.
Fans theorized as much after Goldberg was absent from her regular moderator duties on The View, which airs on ABC, the same network that will broadcast the Oscars on Sunday. The network has claimed that she is ill, although some fans aren't buying the excuse.
Goldberg was the first woman to act as solo host of the Oscars in 1994 and went on to repeat the role in 1996, 1999 and 2002 — so she'd be a veteran at this point. All four hosting gigs were well-received by critics and audiences alike; fans may remember a Moulin Rouge-style entrance and opening monologue on a swing as one of her highlights.
Even before her time hosting, Goldberg made history as the first African American woman to land two Oscar nominations. After losing in 1986 for The Color Purple, she won Best Supporting Actress in 1991 for Ghost.
As was widely publicized at the end of last year and earlier this year, Kevin Hart was appointed to host the 2019 ceremony, but the comedian stepped down days later in the wake of backlash surrounding homophobic comments he made in the past. After his resignation, the Academy announced it would not appoint anyone as a host — although Goldberg had expressed interest in taking on the gig.
"If you want to go hostless, that's your prerogative. I think it's a dumb idea," Goldberg said on The View. "People need someone to take them through things. I think it needs to be somebody who loves the films."
"I realize I may not be anybody's first choice," she said at the time. "I'm also problematic!"
Goldberg was among those who defended actor Liam Neeson after he admitted in an interview that he wandered the streets for a week 40 years ago, looking for a "black bastard" to kill after a black man raped a female friend of his.
“People walk around sometimes with rage, that’s what happens,” Goldberg said at the time. “Is he a bigot? No. I’ve known him a pretty long time, I think I would have recognized … I’ve been around a lot of real bigots. I can say this man is not one.”
She added, “You can’t be surprised that somebody whose loved one is attacked is angry and wants to go out and attack. What he did go on to say ... is that he realized that it was too dark for him, he went and got himself help.”
Adding fuel to the fire that is the rumor surrounding her possible hosting gig, Goldberg recently said that she hoped the band Queen would open the show, which has now been confirmed will happen at the top of the ceremony. Many took to Twitter to voice their suspicions.
"Whoopi Goldberg's absence from The View (she's sick, they say) since the day after they announced her as an Oscar presenter+the fact that she's the only previous Oscar host listed as a presenter+she openly said on The View in January that she'd be up for hosting=???" one Twitter user wrote.
"I believe it. It makes sense to me that the Academy would rather go with a surprise host (people won’t have time to dig up their past problems) than no host at all," another said.
However, others are less skeptical about ABC's reasoning as to why she's been missing from The View lineup this week, citing her frequent coughing.
Co-host Joy Behar, first joking that Goldberg was on maternity leave ("It was a miracle!"), said that Goldberg was actually recovering from pneumonia.
"She's actually recovering from pneumonia, it's a serious thing," Behar explained. "I don't think she's going to be able to host the Oscars and I'm sure she's very disappointed. She's not even well enough to host this show right now."0comments
The 91st Academy Awards air live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo credit: Larry Busacca / Staff / Getty