James Franco a 'Disaster' at Oscars; 'Draft Billy Crystal' Movement Begins
By Rob Shuter Posted Feb 28th 2011 08:51AM
The reviews are rolling in for James Franco's hosting performance at last night's Oscars, and they aren't good: "Distracted and blasé," writes The New York Times, while The Hollywood Reporter comes right out and says he straight-up "bombed." My spies behind the scenes tell me producers knew before the show was even over that trying to go after a young, tech-happy demo by hiring James and Anne Hathaway was a huge mistake.
"This was a disaster," one TV executive tells me. "Before the show began something was wrong with James. His live interview on ABC backstage should have been a warning sign. He was awkward and looked as if he knew what a terrible evening was ahead for all of us."
WATCH: James Getting a 'Belated Hand Massage' From Anne, Moments Before the Final Act >>
Lack of preparation is another factor to the rough evening. James admitted that he had only the weekends to rehearse for the biggest performance of his life, choosing to fly back to the East Coast weekdays to attend classes at Yale University. Even so, his energy level surprised everyone including executives at ABC.
"I'm not sure what happened," one insider tells me. "At rehearsals James and Anne were on fire. It seemed 20 minutes into the show as if James lost interest and just gave up while nerves might have gotten the better of Anne."
Anne has to be given points for trying hard, especially in the face of having a sluggish and ineffective co-host.
Producers immediately took note when eight-time host Billy Crystal walked on stage and the audience acted as if a grown-up had finally shown up to break up an obnoxious backyard party.
"When you're upstaged by a hologram of Bob Hope, you know it's time to go home," my TV exec source snarked.
Which is exactly where James and Anne will find themselves watching next year. Academy sources tell me they are already hoping Billy will return again next year and provide the evening with the one thing it totally lacked -- energy!
2011 Oscars Red Carpet Photos
'True Grit' star and nominee Hailee Steinfeld stuns on the red carpet at the 2011 Academy Awards. Check Out More Pics from this year's Oscars ceremony>>>
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