Legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld stepped up in a big way for fellow funny man Kevin Hart, implying that the Academy Awards are worse off since Hart backed out of hosting the program when outrage erupted over some of Hart's past tweets that were called homophobic.
"Kevin is in a position, because he is a brilliant comedian, to kind of decide what he wants to do," Seinfeld told host Willie Geist in a video interview for "Sunday Today" on NBC. "He doesn't have to step down. But he can."
'Who got screwed in that deal?'
Seinfeld added, "And when you look at that situation, well, who got screwed in that deal? I think Kevin's gonna be fine ... but ... find another Kevin Hart? That's not so easy. He's a brilliant guy with a movie career."
No replacement has been named to host the Oscars, The Hollywood Reporter said.
"We have been navigating these slalom gates forever," Seinfeld observed with a skiing analogy, noting comedians are expected to be "the most agile" when it comes to working around verbal dos and don'ts.
"Look, when I started out ... there were dirty comedians ... 'Well, if you want to get on "The Tonight Show" or if you wanna get on TV, you can't use any of those words. All those words are out.' And a lot of us went, 'OK. I still wanna play. I'll play.' 'Oh, here's a new rule ... we're cutting this out.' 'OK. I'll get around that.' So, that's our thing," he told Geist. "It's like Lindsey Vonn: Wherever you put the gates, I'm going to make 'em. I'm gonna make the gates ... That's the gig."
What's the background?
After Hart's tweets from 2009 to 2011 resurfaced last week, he posted an Instagram video saying the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences demanded he apologize for his past comments or they would find a new host.
"I chose to pass on the apology," Hart said in the clip. "The reason why I passed is because I've addressed this several times. This is not the first time this has come up. I've addressed it. I've spoken on it. I've said where the rights and wrongs were. I've said who I am now versus who I was then. I've done it. I'm not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I've moved on and I'm in a completely different place in my life."
But after the controversy kept up, Hart announced on Twitter that he was backing out of hosting the Oscars because he didn't want to be a distraction to the ceremony — and he also apologized to the LGBT community for his past comments.
Who else stepped up for Hart?
In addition to Seinfeld, actor Nick Cannon also came to Hart's defense, pointing out on Twitter what appeared to be past homophobic tweets by liberal comedians Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Chelsea Handler — and then wondering why they apparently are facing no consequences for them.