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Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch speaks out on James Franco's (lack of) hosting skills

Vilanch To the many viewers out there who wonder whether James Franco was high when he hosted the Oscars (c’mon, you know that’s what you were thinking), veteran Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch denies the allegation.

"No, he wasn't high," Vilanch told Vulture. "I was with him, and he wasn't high. And I asked him, 'Are you high, and can I have some?' And he said no to both."

Instead, Vilanch attributed Franco’s lackadaisical emcee skills to fatigue.  But he doesn’t necessarily hold it against the actor.

"I don't think he realized how big a deal it is to do it until he was actually confronted with it," he said. He added, “I thought maybe it was a performance-art prank, and then I realized he sincerely wanted to do it. But it's outside of those guys' comfort zones. The only people who know how to host those shows are people who get up onstage every night and say, 'Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. A funny thing happened ... ' Or people like Bette [Midler] who get up and sing all night and tell stories."

Lest you think Franco took the comments as constructive criticism, think again! Franco took to his Twitter account to air his frustrations with: “Bruce, he let me down.” Only, you wouldn’t know it, because he later deleted his tweet. Oh, that sneaky, sneaky Franco.

Viewership for the Academy Awards, hosted by Franco and Anne Hathaway, fell to 37.6 million viewers, down from last year's 41.3 million viewers.

--Yvonne Villarreal


Oscars poll: James Franco and Anne Hathaway were the worst hosts

Memo to Bruce Vilanch: Don't blame James Franco for your Oscar flop

Reviews: Oscars show was the 'worst ever' -- and, oh, yes, 'marvelous' too

Photo: Billy Crystal, left, and Bruce Vilanch talk backstage at the 83rd Academy Awards. Credit: Associated Press /Chris Carlson

Comments () | Archives (14)

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The writing was the worst part of the Oscars and the HAVE to change the format! Drop the "In Memoriam" section; they always forget someone important, it goes on forever, and at least this year they had Celine sing so it wouldn't be awkward when someone doesn't get any applause. Why do a drawn out Opening Number? They haven't been funny or amusing since Billy Crystal dressed as Hannibal Leicter. Move the tech awards to a different show and drop the separate animated category.

Then move them to January 10 so no one can trump you and the winners are a surprise. The Golden Globes are only fun to watch to see who drinks too much and makes a fool of themselves.

Dave, I support your comment absolutely... Everything is predicted the big day, not a single surprise. Oscar should be the first one.

When are people going to realize that the low ratings for the Oscars have nothing to do with the host and everything to do with the predictability of it all with too many pre-cursor awards and shows. It's movie award fatigue, not crappy choices for host.

You know what? Why not Bette Midler hosting the Oscars? She can definitely work a crowd like no one can. She would be great with Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin or just by her Divine self.

Why doesn't Jay Leno host it? They've had every other late night guy but they won't hire Leno cuz he does "News...during his monologue." So instead they tried Letterman and Jon Stewart.

Like it or not, Jay is funny without being offensive to anybody and everybody. He has the old style class like Hope and Carson.

The problem wasn't Franco (who WAS pretty dreadful) and Anne Hathaway (who was pretty -- if not quite dreadful), but the people who thought they were the perfect faces of the Academy Awards.

As George Santayana said so famously, those who do not remember the lesson of history are condemned to repeat it. The producers of the annual Oscar telecast apparently are incapable of recalling their failings from year to year, not least among which is the hiring of talentless hack writers like Bruce Vilanch, but its not they who suffer (especially since the Oscar show is a lucrative gig for those on the inside).

They may be the ones repeating their sad history, but the real condemned are the viewers.

If Bruce loses his writing gig, he looks like he'd be perfect for a live-action Shrek film.

And Vilanch is a real pro with one-liners that are witty without being mean-spirited.

Agreed. Get Steve Martin. He's a trained comedian with Movie cred. He's always better than average, and he's respected by the Hollywood community. Since he doesn't do that much live stuff, it's a treat to see him in this role.

C'mon Bradford -- "[Franco] was the worst host that I have ever seen in my life."

I guess you missed the Letterman Oscars, then?

James Franco aside, the writing for this year's program was awful. The writers ought to take some of the heat, not just give it.

Dear Hollywood:

We miss you. Come back soon.

Yours --

The Adults

The wooden indian in front of a cigar store would have been a better host than James Franco.

He was the worst host that I have ever seen in my life.

Although Franco did lack energy hosting the Oscars, it was really the bad writing that is at fault here. The written material for James and Anne was awful...just awful...not funny enough or entertaining at least. Maybe it's time for some new writers period.


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