And the Oscar goes to…

30 November 2010

Yesterday, The Academy, there can only be one, announced that the 83rd Annual Academy Awards would be hosted by two novice hosts, actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway. This bit is from the official press release:

“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 on February 27,” said Oscar telecast producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer. “We are completely thrilled that James and Anne will be joining forces with our brilliant creative team to do just that.”

Next generation of Hollywood icons? Do you really want to walk down that road? I liked Franco in the supremely underrated TV show “Freaks and Geeks.” Hathaway is in my five and she does have an Academy Award nomination to her credit. Are these two host material? Do they measure up to Johnny Carson or Bob Hope or Billy Crystal or Whoopi Goldberg? How can you call them icons, thus breaking commandment number two, when they haven’t done much to warrant it?

Both have hosted Saturday Night Live, Hathaway’s appearance was actually quite good, Franco’s was just another in a long line of forgettable performances. Franco has been in some Boffo Box Office Hits. His cumulative total is over $1.7 billon, though he is helped by being in all three Spiderman movies. Hathaway has just tipped the $1 billion  mark helped mostly by “Alice in Wonderland” and “Get Smart.” Only four of her movies are rated “Fresh” by rottentomatoes.com. This means her choices are not great.

There is precedent for having actors, not comedians, host the show. The first Oscars, not telecast due to television commercial not being invented at that time, was hosted by The King of Hollywood, Douglas Fairbanks and screenwriter William C deMille. Other non-comedians who hosted include: Jack Lemmon, Goldie Hawn, Ellen Burstyn, Gene Kelly and more recently, Robin Williams and Chevy Chase.

It’s a tough job that’s for sure. I don’t think I would want it. Being the host of the Oscars is like standing alone, naked in a room of a billion people and told to be funny, clever, entertaining or at least not piss your pants in front of everyone. Not to mention all of Hollywood who can make or break your career. In the past, the host has been an untouchable. Look at Bob Hope or Johnny Carson. At that point, in their respective careers, they didn’t make movies. A big shot Hollywood producer who was offended at a barb couldn’t black ball them. So what if Bob Hope couldn’t do a cameo in a movie, he had four television specials a year and countless USO tours. Johnny had “The Tonight Show.” If a studio exec were upset at anything Carson said, they may be able to keep a big star off his show. If that happened, the movie didn’t get publicized properly and could end up tanking at the box office. In effect, there was nothing a studio big wig could do to Johnny that wouldn’t end up hurting his own studio.

When David Letterman hosted he upset everyone and he didn’t care. I highly doubt there was going to be a “Cabin Boy 2.” He started with the infamous “Oprah/Uma” joke and it went downhill from there.

Jon Stewart did well under trying circumstances – the Writers Strike of 2007. Again, there isn’t going to be a “Death to Smoochy 2: The Return of Buggy Ding Dong.” So he could rip whomever he wanted.

By having younger hosts, the producers hope to attract a hip audience. If this works, we may be seeing this pairing next year:

What got me wondering the most was couldn’t the producers find anyone else to host Hollywood’s Biggest Night?  Here’s who I came up with, in no particular order:

Regis Philbin

Okay, he isn’t young and he probably hasn’t seen a new movie since 1948 but he is hysterical. Have you ever seen him on Letterman, he cracks Dave up all the time. As an added bonus, he already works for ABC, the host network of the Oscars. ABC would only have to give him a little something extra in the pay envelope and not his full quote.

Tina Fey

She is become the entertainment industry’s go-to-girl and is the best writer on television today. As a former cast member and two-time SNL host, she can handle the heavy lifting. In addition, she is also in my five. The downside is that she maybe too smart of the room.

Sasha Baron Cohen

He would be wonderfully irreverent and funny. He is so unpredictable that ABC would have to have defibrillators on hand for all the execs just in case.

Stephen Colbert

The Academy Awards needs is a bit of “Truthiness.” I would love to see him in the belly of the Hollywood, liberal-elite beast dolling out wags of his finger to all those in attendance.

Neil Patrick Harris

He would be 3/4 of the way to a hosting EGOT having already done the Emmy’s and Tony’s. Two years ago, the host was Hugh Jackman and he did a few song and dance numbers. NPH could do the same. Having him host would be “Legend…wait for it.”

Ricky Gervais

Sure, his movie career has been uneven but he created “The Office” and “Extras.” The irony of having Andy Millman, a movie extra, as host would be delicious. Now follow me on this, if the two previous suggestions were to merge the host would be – Neil Millman.

Jack Black and Will Ferrell

A few years back they did a bit on the Oscars and it was brilliant. They could hit the younger demo and definitely bring the funny.

Conan O’Brien

He’s in LA anyway. He trends younger and has never been in a movie. Wouldn’t you like to see Coco back on network television?

Sarah Silverman

The last Jewish female host was Whoopi Goldberg. Wait, I am being told she is neither. Silverman may be too esoteric for the mainstream, besides I hear she is no longer fucking Matt Damon.

Betty White

Like Chickenman, she’s everywhere (raise your hand if you got that reference, okay, four.) Why not, In fact I am shocked no one started an Internet campaign to have her host.

Wanda Sykes

When she is on, no one is funnier. She co-hosted the Emmy’s one year and that was it. Now that she is out and doesn’t care, her commentaries on Hollywood would be a welcome change of pace.

Michael Sorrentino and Nicole Polizzi

After each win, the hosts would give a fist bump.

“…dary!”

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