James Franco on Emceeing the Oscars

Last Updated: May 18, 2011By Tags:

By ALI NADERZAD – December 2, 2010

Upon hearing the news that James Franco would host the Oscars along with Anne Hathaway I reached out to him to get the skinny.

But first, who’s saying what in the barrage of articles that quickly filled up everyone’s news readers after the announcement made earlier this week?

Brooks Barnes, from the noted New York Times blog Carpetbagger pointed that Franco and Hathaway “certainly have cachet in Hollywood as bright young things. But do they have the same pull with the general population?” I wonder if Barnes is alluding to an age thing. The Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes wrote, “ABC is … guaranteed to be stuck with one of the lowest-rated Academy Awards broadcasts in recent memory … ” Ouch! But then she adds, “on paper, Hathaway and Franco sound great.” Even former-mayor-reborn-as-film-critic Ed Koch joined in the chorus, saying in the Huffington Post that, “the hosting role always calls out for comic humor. Not thespian talent. I hope I’m wrong, but I think these two should stick to acting.” Well, Koch was never much for subtlety.

This barrage of grievances, outweighed by the overwhelmingly positive response shines a light on the more archaic nature of the Hollywood establishment—conservatism and fussiness rule—and the expectations that go along with it.

Bah humbug to all the negativity I say. Lisa de Moraes should have slept on it before filing her story. I’m guessing that the opposite of what she wrote in her article will happen: Team Franco-Hathaway’s jokes will be talked about all year and ABC will get its highest ratings ever. When I asked Franco how he would prepare for the telecast, he simply responded “just relax.” As I mentioned the indignant press articles and asked if this was making him nervous he added, “I don’t feel any pressure. I am just happy to be a part of the show.”

When I asked him about his decision to host the Oscars he commented, “I hesitated for a second, but then I realized that of course I should do it. Who knows how long people are still going to care about the Oscars? I thought it would be nice to take part while people still love movies.” What Franco might have been referring is the current debacle that studios are confronted with, from plummeting DVD sales to pirating-via-streaming made easier and faster for less scrupulous consumers—the thorn in everyone else’s side.

When I said the show will get its highest ratings ever, I wasn’t only basing myself on my intuition (Paul the Octopus eat your heart out). There will be an additional reason to watch the Academy Awards this year. Both thespians have a shot at being nominated, he for his turn in “127 hours” and Hathaway for “Love & other drugs.” And with the possibility of an Oscar host winning an award looming ever larger (a never-before-seen moment, if I’m not mistaken), who’s not going to be watching?