James Franco says he didn't want to host Oscars

Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:26pm EDT
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By Steve Pond

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap) - Remember that disastrous Academy Awards show back in February?

Well, it wasn't James Franco's fault that he was a lousy host. In fact, he didn't even want the gig and acted dull on purpose.

Four months after a brief Twitter-fueled tiff in which he criticized Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch (and then made up with Vilanch the next day), Franco is in the August issue of Playboy magazine with his first in-depth comments about what was widely seen as a debacle of an Oscar show, with Franco's listless performance drawing near-unanimous scorn.

And there's nary a mea culpa to be found in Franco's comments, which repeatedly circle back to the same theme: I didn't write that stuff, and I did what I could with substandard material.

Oscar observers could be forgiven for thinking that Franco in fact did what he could to sabotage lackluster material by appearing dazed and confused while co-host Anne Hathaway was unnervingly chipper.

After the show, one staffer told TheWrap that Franco had been even more lethargic during rehearsals, leading staff members to hope that he was "saving it for the show" -- while others said that the actor's performance was the object of some serious 11th-hour discussions among top show staffers, who knew his detached style presented a huge problem.

To read Franco's comments in Playboy, though, he was simply a victim of bad writing, and a loyal deckhand who figured there was nothing to do but go down with the ship.

In fact, he uses that exact metaphor at one point, after saying that he considered himself "trapped" by the material.   Continued...