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Hart, Del Toro, Goldberg among Oscar presenters

Comedian Kevin Hart is everywhere, all the time. At least it seems that way. How did this happen, seemingly overnight?

ASTRID RIECKEN/THE WASHINGTON POST

By REBECCA KEEGAN | Los Angeles Times | Published: February 1, 2016

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its first slate of presenters and performers for February’s Oscars telecast, a group that includes five artists of color - Kevin Hart, the Weeknd, Pharrell Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Benicio del Toro.

Others planning to take the Oscar stage include Tina Fey, Ryan Gosling, Sam Smith, Charlize Theron and Jacob Tremblay.

The announcement Thursday of the diverse group of performers and presenters comes as prominent black Hollywood figures Spike Lee and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have said they will not attend the show in a protest of this year’s all-white slate of acting nominees.

Some activists have also said they plan to encourage audiences to turn away from the Feb. 28 show and have asked telecast host Chris Rock to step down.

Last week the academy accelerated a diversity plan that had been in the works to stem the growing controversy, announcing a sweeping series of rule changes designed to add more women and people of color to the organization.

The new rules, which include limiting lifetime voting rights for certain academy members, sparked an intense response from Oscar voters, but the announcement appears to have quelled some of the public outrage about the nominations.

This was the second year in a row the academy nominated an all-white group of actors, though in recent years the show’s presenters have become more diverse. There were 15 presenters of color, including Rock and Hart, at last year’s Oscar telecast, the most diverse group of presenters in Oscar history.

If the threat of an Oscar boycott had gained wider traction in Hollywood, this year’s telecast producers, David Hill and Reginald Hudlin, might have struggled to book their show with stars, but the early snapshot of presenters suggests that’s not the case.

“Each of these artists brings a wonderfully distinctive element to the Oscars stage,” Hill and Hudlin said in a statement. “Together they represent the many thrilling ways stories can be shared about the human experience, and we’re honored they will be part of the celebration.”

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©2016 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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