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Oscar ratings slip 7% as critics scorn hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco

Many critics dissed the hosting combo of James Franco and Anne Hathaway, but considering that the ceremony lacked a huge crowd-pleasing nominee such as last year's "Avatar," Sunday's 83rd Academy Awards telecast on ABC held up pretty well in the ratings.

The three-hour-plus show scored a 24.6 household rating in the top 56 TV markets, according to early results from the Nielsen Co. That was down 7% compared with last year's broadcast.

Red-carpet But the ceremony, which awarded the best picture prize to "The King's Speech," slipped just 2% among viewers ages 18 to 49. That may have been thanks to Hathaway and Franco, the youngest cohosts in Oscar history and an effort by the academy, as Hathaway alluded to in an early joke, to be "appealing" to a youthful demographic.

But the critics were mostly less than kind. The Hollywood Reporter said the awards show "could go down as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history." Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara said the pair "played it safe" but nevertheless delivered what was expected of them.

More detailed ratings, including a total-viewer count, will be released later Monday.

What did you think of the show?

-- Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)


Television review: Anne Hathaway and James Franco play it safe

Oscars ceremony was one of the shortest in recent times

The British are coming? Decoding the 'King's Speech' win

Big Picture: The triumph of Hollywood conservative values

Photo: James Franco and Anne Hathaway during Sunday's Oscar telecast. Credit: Michael Yada / European Pressphoto Agency


Comments () | Archives (119)

People need to stop blaming Franco and Hathaway! It's the economy stupid!!!

For the Oscar's to "win" in the ratings game and become the "entertainment" equivolent of the movies it represents is pretty simple.

Have the winners "face" the losers. People would kill themselve to watch. As Nascar, the NHL and NFL have learned, the American Public is there to see the "crash", "the fight" or the "Hit", not the finer points of the activity.

So give 'em what the want. No more acceptance speach. The winner must address each and every looser in a disrespectful "I won you lost" monologue. Preferably able to make fun and trivialize the others work to the extent the loosers are red faced with tears. Loosers are to be mic'ed for "witty" retorts to the winner.

Any cover singer gets "x-factor" judgement from Simon or pelted with fruit and vegies from the audience - they choose after their performance. Finally, only use "Porn stars" and the like for the MC position for each award. Finally, the "host(s)" are to be actively harassed by the audience with specially placed "roasters" for comic effect between catagories. Some tie in to the next catagory or perhaps the latest sex scandle the host is "alleged" to have been involved with.

I will personally guarentee the highest ratings ever for the Oscars with such a format.

Agree with majority here--hosts were bad overall; Franco disasterous, while Hathaway at least attempted to do her job. The real criticism should be addressed toward the people in charge who thought this was a good idea. When Franco himself Tweets just minutes before the opening that "I might be bad", how could no one else have seen this coming? Have been watching the Oscars every year for over 30 years. This one ranks at the top for being the worst, mostly because there wasn't a funny host to rescue the show when it needs it.

Worst. Oscars. Ever.

Clearly James Franco is a somnambulist. Anne tried her best to carry the load for them both, but in the end wound up overcompensating. She is funny, and charming and wonderful to look at. I'm sorry this opportunity for her was blown by her cohost. He's cute, but not right for this part.

As others have said, a good comedian(ienne) has the skill to read the room, and adjust the rhythm to the mood- writers backstage can do great work, but that moment sometimes has to be seized by the one on stage.
Hathaway was charming, and may have been a good foil to a Steve Martin or Billy Crystal- not even a Young Buck comic would have the antenna to adapt to that room- which is filled with the most self-important audience you'll ever face. By the way, two "old guys" were the classiest/ funniest: Kirk Douglass & David Seidler.
As a show, it was Made for TV, all video all the time. Video everywhere, no set, no staging. I thought I was looking at outtakes of Tron, The Awards Show. Bring back a LIVE show, with at least something to fill the stage. As it was it could have been done entirely on a sound stage, in green screen.
And, anyone notice the credits listing 'dancers'? Something cut? Like a show?

Kirk Douglas = Incredibly Painful Mistake

I didn't watch the entire "performance"(if you could call it THAT), but what I did see(mostly the last hour and a half)wasn't terribly stimulating at all. While James Franco was elsewhere called a "somnabulist" I'd call him "soporific"(the too words, however, suggest the same quality to his "performance"). So all in all, this particular program could be retitled the "Ennui Awards" show.

One concession though.....Sandra Bullock's improvisational ribbing of Jeff Bridges. Now THAT is something worth preserving and having more of in the future. And so long as she can continue with this, she's easily qualified to be next year's presenter.

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunas had much more chemistry and were more interesting to watch than the hosts. Hathaway was a USC Song Girl and Franco, a Stepford wife. Franco never gave her eye contact once, which made Hathaway so insecure she acted like a 13-year-old desperate for attention. Franco slurred at one point making me think he was drunk, not high. Sandra Bullock should host it alone.

Outright contempt for the very art they're there to celebrate doesn't help either: no effort to add context or understanding about the most collaborative artform.
In an environment where most in the audience believe actors are just saying whatever pops into their heads, might help raise the bar.

As it is, offhand dismissals of the 'nerds', the technicians who make the magic of the Winklevoss twin illusion, or the action of a Michael Bay or James Cameron film possible, whether high brow or low brow, is just contemptible, and furthers the disinterest the public has in how much blood sweat and tears have to go into making movie magic.

I happen to miss those short features that helped us understand just what goes into some of these processes. Others have no interest in learning how the sausage is made. Make it a one hour show, of just the highlights, and let us get on to our prime time enjoyments.

Sure, it wasn't spectacular, but i loved the intro that they made, and there were some funnier moments, it was good, but not excellent. But I can say this much: they were light-years better than last years Alec and Steve. They bored me to death with their worned out humor. It was old. Boring.

Just have Kathy Griffin host and be done with it already.

Bring back Chris Rock to host

I think Anne Hathaway and Alec Baldwin would have made great co-hosts. He's funny and she does well. I prefer when they have a comedian who hosts since it lightens things up and makes for better entertainment. I enjoyed it but it did seem like Anne was trying real hard and Franco not hard enough. It was nice to watch hosts who don't bash other actors.

If the intention was to appeal to a younger demographic they might not have brought up Bob Hope, had Kirk Douglas present (difficult to watch, as much as I admire him), or showed clips of old films throughout the night. Not sure I got the relevance of their choice of clips either.

Where's all the non-pc comments by winners and/or presenters? I remember watching Oscar as a teen and enjoying timely social comments by the likes of Newman, Brando, Pacino, winners/losers. These days stars are way too politically correct and incite yawns with their endless thanks to managers and agents. Where's George Clooney when you need him.

The only creative highlight was the opening montage with the hosts. From there it was all down hill. Whether it was the terrible writing or the hosts themselves, their performances were forgettable. Franco had zero personality and zero comedic timing. He looked bored and uninterested. Bottom line, he added zero to the show. At least Anne had personality and charisma, but she was still out of place. I think that the Oscars should revert back to a single host format and use the services of a comedian or at the very least, someone with a sense of comedic timing. They might also want to hire some new writers too. The written material was pathetic.

The answer to the perfect modern host is (as previously mentioned) Tom Hanks.

Nobody could possible afford him, so dream on.

Franco was comatose and dopey. Hathaway was cute, but not worthy of hosting the Academy Awards. Let's bring back Billy Crystal.

I thought Franco and Hathaway were being in character. I enjoyed them but probably because I'm 22 and part of the youth demographic they were aiming for.

If I chose a host myself, I would try an actual professional speaker/host. They do exist. Even if we've never heard of them. But if TV ratings are the priority then celebrities are better.

Hilarious when Catherine Bigelow walked on stage looking like a Wonder Woman version of an Australian's nightmare. She's so imposing she made Hilary Swank look like a little girl in her princess dress up. Cate Blanchett should have put a photograph in her frame. Jennifer Hudson's boobs looked like two softballs side by side in hammocks. Sharon Stone looked like Cruella de Vil meets Ivana Trump. Mila Kunis dress was, well, lovely.

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