GIVE HIM TO THE GEEK

Hosting the Oscars is a tough gig, even for industry veterans like Billy Crystal, Jon Stewart, and Steve Martin. So tough, that Whoopi Goldberg, who emceed the event on four different occasions through the 90’s and 00’s was once quoted as saying: “Hosting the Oscars is a no-win” situation. Just ask David Letterman, who took the reigns in 1994, and can never seem to escape the moment his Uma-Oprah banter went south.

To take some of the pressure off, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences opted for a co-hosted ceremony last year, featuring the antics of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. The gamble paid off, as the comedic tag team turned tired routines into mildly amusing punch lines. Joked Martin, “Hosting is like making love to a beautiful woman; it’s something I only get to do when Billy Crystal is out of town.”

As a result of the Martin-Baldwin success, the Academy decided to keep the co-hosting format for its 83rd Annual Award Ceremony. But this time, in an attempt to connect with a more youthful audience, has turned to recognizable actors, James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

Franco’s credits include Milk, Spider-Man, Pineapple Express, and most recently, 127 Hours, which earned him a Best Actor nomination this year. Equally impressive, Hathaway is probably best known for The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, and Love and Other Drugs. However, she’s no stranger to Oscar either, having earned a nod for Best Actress in 2008 for her lead in Rachel Getting Married.

Oscar Hosts: James Franco & Anne Hathaway

Said Oscar telecast producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer, “James Franco and Anne Hathaway personify the next generation of Hollywood icons – fresh, exciting, and multi-talented. We hope to create an Oscar broadcast that will both showcase their incredible talents and entertain the world.”

Unlike Ricky Gervais’ hosting debacle at this year’s Golden Globes’ ceremony, which ruffled one too many Hollywood feathers, the Academy is going the conservative route – a production that will feature fewer jokes and more music/dance numbers, a la the Billy Crystal inspired sketches that placed him in each of the Best Picture nominees.

There won’t be a tedious opening monologue. Nor will there be any montages, like last year’s unnecessary tribute to horror movies. And award winners might just have enough time to finish their acceptance speeches before the orchestra drowns them out.

Most importantly, the event will try and make people feel as if they’re “invited” to the Oscars, capturing and streaming the event directly through the eyes, ears, and tweets of Franco and Hathaway – a tip of the hat to this thing we call The Social Network.

For my Oscar picks and more, check out the official home of  The Reel Deal.

-Mark Sells, “The Reel Deal”

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