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Is James Franco honest or tiring?

July 11, 2011 |  8:40 am

We're closer to the next award season than to the last one. But James Franco still has the Oscars on his mind. He's not happy about some of the things producers put him through earlier this year. And he continues to be willing to share that unhappiness with seemingly any passing media outlet.

In the new issue of Playboy, the actor-cum-host had a few things to say about his recent hosting gig and why he felt he was as much the victim as, well, many of us in the viewing audience.

Pointing the finger at writers for why many of his bits fell flat, Franco said: "There were a lot of cooks who shouldn't have been cooking but were allowed to," adding, "there were some cooks my manager tried to bring in, like Judd Apatow, who wrote some very funny stuff that wasn't used."

Franco said he was up-front with producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer about the issues as he saw them but found his comments falling on deaf ears. "In the last week, when we really started focusing on the script for the live show and did a run-through, I said to the producer, 'I don't know why you hired me, because you haven't given me anything. I just don't think this stuff's going to be good.'"

Franco had previously taken a shot at Anne Hathaway, telling David Letterman she was the Tasmanian Devil. The actor didn't call her any names in this interview, but did point to his co-host as the reason he came off as detached. "As far as having low energy or seeming as though I wasn't into it or was too cool for it, I thought, 'OK, Anne is going the enthusiastic route.' I've been trained as an actor to respond to circumstances, to the people I'm working with, and not force anything. So I thought I would be the straight man and she could be the other, and that's how I was trying to do those lines."

He added: "I felt kind of trapped in that material. I felt, "This is not my boat. I'm just a passenger, but I'm going down and there's no way out." The biggest issue, in his mind? The ill-fated drag routine that had him dressing up as Marilyn Monroe. "I was so pissed about that," he said.

All of this comes after Franco's little battle with writer Bruce Vilanch in which Vilanch essentially dissed the host as someone who wouldn't knew comedy if it walked up and bit him.

As is often the case with Franco's post-Oscar comments, it's hard to decide if they are a form of refreshing candor or tedious buck-passing. Actually, by this point, listening to the actor explain why his hosting gig didn't work isn't really either. It just calls attention to a bad performance, something Franco, as an actor, might be best off avoiding.


James Franco versus Bruce Vilanch: Will this continue until next year's Oscars?

Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch speaks out on James Franco

Is James Franco good for the Oscars, or vice versa?

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: James Franco in "Howl." Credit: Oscilloscope Pictures