Franco, Hathaway fail to wow as Oscar hosts

Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:35am EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar organizers tried something unprecedented in the awards' 83-year history on Sunday -- entrusting a young, attractive pair of Hollywood stars to host the film industry's highest honors.

But the efforts of James Franco and Anne Hathaway fell largely flat, according to early reviews of their first stint as Oscar hosts.

The New York Times said that "the prolonged effort to pander to younger viewers was downright painful" at times, while the Boston Herald remarked sourly that "references to the Internet, apps and Facebook do not make a show trendy, or alas, entertaining."

Entertainment Weekly, however, said that Hathaway, 28, and Franco, 32, were "marvelous Oscar hosts" calling them "funny, poised, relaxed, and smart."

Producers of the Oscar telecast had been hoping that the duo might lure younger viewers who have increasingly tuned out the Oscars in recent years.

"Anne, I must say, you look so beautiful and so hip," Franco deadpanned as show opened.

"Oh, thank you, James," said Hathaway, the youngest host in Oscar history. "You look very appealing to a younger demographic as well."

Early in the show, presenter Justin Timberlake, appeared to use a smart-phone app to illuminate a "Shrek" backdrop to introduce awards for animated films.   Continued...