Academy Awards producer Reginald Hudlin tells U.S. TV show Entertainment Tonight that the comedian is not pulling out of hosting duties, but is actually changing his script to include some provocative gags about the debate surrounding the ceremony.

"He and his writing staff locked themselves in a room," Hudlin says. "As things got a little provocative and exciting, he (Chris) said, 'I'm throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.'

"And yes, the Academy is ready for him to do that. They're excited about him doing that. They know that's what we need. They know that's what the public wants, and we deliver what the people want... He's that brilliant, and I have 1000 per cent confidence that he will deliver something that people will be talking about for weeks."

Many high-profile names have been among those speaking out about the lack of diversity since the Oscar nominations were announced on 14 January (16). No stars of colour were recognised in any of the major acting categories, despite actors including Idris Elba, Will Smith, Michael B. Jordan and the cast of Straight Outta Compton giving critically-acclaimed performances over the past year.

Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith have already announced they are boycotting the awards this year, along with director Spike Lee.

Mark Ruffalo, who is nominated for a Best Supporting Actor prize for his role in Spotlight, recently admitted he understood why some stars are avoiding the ceremony, and even considered not going himself.

Chris has already joked about the Academy Awards race issue by tweeting a promo for the show and captioning it, "The Oscars. The White BET Awards." The Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards were launched in 2001 to celebrate African Americans and other minorities in music, acting, and sports.

The 88th Annual Academy Awards take place on 28 February (16).