A decade after Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted the 2011 Oscars — famous for being the “worst show ever” — the team of producers behind the broadcast recently opened up about what really went wrong that fateful night.
As viewers may remember, Hathaway and Franco’s pairing came off on the Oscars stage as being awkward, but that wasn’t the only issue with the show. As The Post’s Lou Lumenick put it: “I’ve been watching Oscar shows on TV since the late 1950s, and I’ve never seen anything remotely as awful and mind-numbing as Sunday night — a perfect storm of incompetent hosts, terrible writing, awkward moments.”
“It was like the world’s most uncomfortable blind date between the cool rocker stoner kid and the adorable theater camp cheerleader,” David Wild, who was a part of the writing team that year, told the Ringer. “I call it an incredibly dark significant comic event in my life.”
Memorable moments from the evening included when Franco, 42, dressed up as Marilyn Monroe and made a joke about being Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon separated from presenters Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey. Hathaway, 38, later sang an ear-shattering rendition of “On My Own” from “Les Misérables” — ironically she sang it again for the musical’s film adaptation a year later — to Hugh Jackman, who was sitting in the front row. The “Devil Wears Prada” star then called Jackman a “huge Jack-ass” and added how he “stuck his fake retractable claws into my heart” during the show.
Franco later blamed it on the writing, but Wild begged to differ, explaining in the recent interview that an unofficial first choice for the Oscars host was Justin Timberlake.
“I had been writing with Justin and I remember the producers said to me, ‘Do you want to do a soft ask if he’d host the Oscars?’ ” Wild said, noting that Timberlake was interested. “He said that he’d love to do it, but he thought it was a year too early for him. He wanted to wait until after “The Social Network” had gone through an awards season.” The Aaron Sorkin-penned Facebook drama scored eight nominations and won three that year.
Jordan Rubin, one of the show’s organizers, added that there was some tension between Hathaway and Franco. “She showed up ready to play and committed 110 percent,” he told the Ringer. “And he was a great guy but often looked like he had just woken up from a nap. It’s almost like you’re showing up to a tennis court and one person decided that they were going to play in the US Open and the other wanted to play in jeans and just kind of hit a few balls.”
Megan Amram, a comedian who was tasked with drafting some of the show, noted that she thought the duo was “random” from the very beginning.
“I thought that it sounded at the time like someone had run pop culture through an algorithm and spit out this thing on paper that sounded like it would appeal to the youth,” she said. “But in practice, it was very random.”
She continued, “A lot of stuff that made it into the show was written a few days beforehand. We wrote all these jokes, but I don’t think we ever landed on a tone or a cohesive feeling of what the show would be.”