Academy Awards organizers have decided to stick with a tried and true host: Jimmy Kimmel.
Mr. Kimmel, the late-night comedian who has hosted the event three times, will return to the Oscars stage on March 10 to steer the 96th ceremony, according to two people briefed on the plan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose it. Molly McNearney, the co-head writer and an executive producer of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on ABC, will serve as an executive producer for the 96th Oscars telecast.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not respond to requests for comment.
Seeking cultural relevancy for the ceremony following a period of plunging ratings, the academy and ABC, which broadcasts the Oscars, have bounced between formats in recent years. They tried three hosts in 2022 (Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall, Amy Schumer) and zero hosts, from 2019 to 2021. For the 2023 show, the academy returned to one host — Mr. Kimmel, who also did the job in 2017 and 2018.
He delivered. Viewership rose to nearly 19 million people this year, according to Nielsen, up from 16.6 million the year before and 10.4 million in 2021, the lowest ever. Before 2018, the telecast had never dropped below 32 million.
Just as important for the academy, Mr. Kimmel’s return was free of controversy, helping to restore luster to an event tarnished in 2022 when Will Smith marched onstage and slapped Chris Rock. The academy and ABC also overhauled the red carpet preshow, hiring consultants with experience at the Met Gala to make star arrivals feel less chaotic and more glamorous. The red carpet was vanquished in favor of a champagne-colored one.
Hosting the ceremony was once viewed as a feather in the cap of top comedians like Billy Crystal, a nine-time host, and Whoopi Goldberg, who was M.C. four times. But many stars have become leery about the time commitment and potential backlash that hosting can bring. Trash-talking the Oscars — for its stilted banter, for the choices made by voters, for its very existence — has become a hallmark of the social media age.
Hollywood’s awards season has been slow to start this time around because of the actors’ strike, which prevented stars from promoting finished work. With the strike resolved, studios and publicists have quickly ramped up awards campaigns, pushing stars like Emma Stone, a front-runner for a best actress nomination for her debauched performance in the surrealist comedic drama “Poor Things,” and films like “American Fiction,” a satire about a writer who puts together a fake memoir that turns on racial stereotypes.
Other films expected to prominently figure into the 96th Academy Awards include “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” both of which were runaway successes at the global box office. If they receive as many nominations as people in Hollywood expect, it will help Mr. Kimmel: Viewership for the Oscars tends to increase when popular films are honored.