Writers reveal story behind ‘worst Oscars in history’ hosted by Anne Hathaway and James Franco in 2011

The co-host pairing was described as ‘like the world’s most uncomfortable blind date’

Annabel Nugent
Thursday 15 April 2021 08:29
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The Oscars: Best and worst hosts of all time

Writers behind the 2011 Oscars ceremony have revealed the inside story behind what was regarded as “the worst Oscar telecasts in history”.

When Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted the Academy Awards 10 years ago, it was met with a luke-warm reception.

The Hollywood Reporter called it “spectacularly unwatchable” while Time Magazine said it was “clear the experiment had gone bad” and described watching the awards show as “very tiring”. 

The Independent described the pairing as “dreadful chemistry – an uneasy mix of Hathaway’s cloying perkiness and Franco’s disconnected grinning”.

“Early jokes are met with mirthless silence, and a later skit in which Franco dresses in drag goes down like a lead balloon.”

David Wild and Jordan Rubin, writers who had been involved in the ceremony, have opened up about the “disastrous” hosting gig in a new interview with The Ringer

Wild revealed that Franco and Hathaway were not the first choice for co-hosts, with the producers initially keen for Justin Timberlake to take on the duty.

“[Timberlake] said that he’d love to do it, but he thought it was a year too early for him,” said Wild. “He wanted to wait until after The Social Network had gone through an awards season.” 

Wild described the eventual pairing of Franco and Hathaway as “like the world’s most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker stoner kid and the adorable theatre camp cheerleader”.

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Rubin also revealed that one “red flag” raised ahead of the ceremony was Franco’s unavailability for rehearsals and filming.

“He always seemed to be on a flight and it was very hard for me to get a hold of him. That was a red flag,” said Rubin.

Wild remembered seeing tension between the co-hosts during rehearsals, and claimed to have witnessed an awkward encounter when Hathaway suggested that Franco read a certain line differently.

He said: “This is a memory, but [Hathaway] was like, ‘Maybe you should try that,’ and he was like, ‘Don’t tell me how to be funny.’”

The writing duo also detailed a number of sketches that did not make it to the final broadcast, claiming that Franco had wanted to dress up as Cher to perform a duet with the real singer.

There was also an alleged plan for Franco and Hathaway to sing the Grease song “You’re the One That I Want” with the lyrics altered to reference the actor’s recent role in 127 Hours

The writers revealed that Arrested Development star Will Arnett had also rehearsed a sketch – that was later cut – in which he ran across the stage in a nude bodysuit, in a reference to the 1974 Oscars when a man streaked on stage. 

This month’s Oscars ceremony will be the third consecutive year that the awards show has no host. Director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Contagion), however, serves as the producer.

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