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Oscar nominations: Franco is host, and nominee for '127 Hours'

January 25, 2011 |  7:21 am


James Franco entered a rare fraternity on Tuesday, becoming one of the few actors to be nominated for an Oscar and serve a host of the ceremony in the same year.

Franco was nominated for lead actor for his commanding performance as Aron Ralston, the hiker who cut off his lower arm in director Danny Boyle's "127 Hours."

It’s not the first time an Oscar nominee is a host, though you have to go back close to 40 years to find an example. In 1973, Michael Caine was a co-host of the show and was nominated for his role in "Sleuth," while in 1959, David Niven hosted the show and received the lead actor prize for "Separate Tables" that night.

Franco, who’s now pursuing a doctorate at Yale in English and film studies, got the news just before he had to go to a class on the poets Byron, Keats and Shelley.

“Fox Searchlight was very generously confident that I would be nominated. They wanted me to be in New York and go on a few morning shows. I said I couldn’t,” Franco said from a street corner in New Haven, Conn. “I didn’t want to miss class and be so presumptuous that it would happen to me. So they had the morning shows come out here to film my reaction. For first time, I watched the announcements.”

Franco said that he’s more nervous about the hosting duties than the nomination and that didn’t think the double duty would be a problem.

“It’s not awkward. I think it’s great. Thank goodness!” he said. “It takes my mind off the award announcements. Hosting duties will have me thinking about the show and not thinking about my category.”

Franco is co-hosting the ceremony with actress Anne Hathaway, who isn't nominated this year but was previously nominated for her performance in "Rachel Getting Married."

Franco was just in Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival, where he exhibited his art film “Three’s Company: The Drama.” The project is a sardonic look at the iconic 1970s TV sitcom.

“Here’s hoping that “Three’s Company: The Drama” gets nominated next year,”  he said. “Let’s start that campaign right now!”

-- Chris Lee

Photo: James Franco at Los Angeles County Museum of Art benefit gala in the fall. Credit: Paul Buck / EPA