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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • James Franco blames bad writing for Oscar bomb

    Actor/student/performance artist James Franco is has broken his silence about his lackluster effort hosting the Oscars this year.

    Appearing dazed and confused on the three hour-plus telecast, Franco’s widely panned performance had viewers wondering if the “General Hospital” star was either drunk or stoned.

    But Frano says it wasn’t drugs’ or alcohol’s fault.

    It was bad writers.

    “It’s hard to talk about because it’s like assigning blame—not a fun thing to do,” Franco explains in the new issue of Playboy. “For three or four weeks we shot the promos and the little film that played in the opening. In the last week, when we really started focusing on the script for the live show and did a run-through, I said to the producer, ‘I don’t know why you hired me, because you haven’t given me anything. I just don’t think this stuff’s going to be good.’”

    Franco, who likened co-host Anne Hathaway to a “Tasmanian Devil,” felt that he was reacting to his uber-perky partner in the only way he knew how. “As far as having low energy or seeming as though I wasn’t into it or was too cool for it, I thought, ‘Okay, Anne is going the enthusiastic route,’” explains Franco. “I’ve been trained as an actor to respond to circumstances, to the people I’m working with, and not force anything. So I thought I would be the straight man and she could be the other, and that’s how I was trying to do those lines. I felt kind of trapped in that material. I felt, ‘This is not my boat.’ I’m just a passenger, but I’m going down and there’s no way out.”

    Another thing that irked the Yale doctoral student was that he was humiliated having to dress like Marilyn Monroe in drag.

    “I was so pissed about that I was deliberately going to fall onstage and hopefully my dress would fall off or something—they couldn’t blame that on me; I was in high heels,” Franco says of the hot pink gown, lipstick and blonde wig he was forced to wear. “The plan had been that I was going to sing as Cher and then Cher was going to come out onstage; that got axed when Cher and the song from ‘Burlesque’ weren’t nominated. I told them, ‘Look, this is the thing people are going to talk about, the images they will take away from the show.”

    A resigned Franco gave up and turned in a half-hearted performance.

    “I just didn’t want to fight anymore, even when they said, ‘You’ll come out as Marilyn Monroe. It’ll be funny.’ Me in drag is not funny. Me in drag as Cher trying to sing like her is a thing. That didn’t happen, so then I just didn’t want to argue anymore.”

    Franco wishes the folks at the Academy had given his friend and “Pineapple Express” collaborator Judd Apatow a chance. “I was going with their program; I wanted to do the material they gave me, not be one of the many cooks doing the writing. There were a lot of cooks who shouldn’t have been cooking but were allowed to. There were some cooks my manager tried to bring in, like Judd Apatow, who wrote some very funny stuff that wasn’t used.”

    Despite knowing the show bombed, Franco initially received some high praise from people in high places for his performance. “After the show everybody was so happy, and Bruce Cohen, the show’s producer, hugged me and said, ‘Steve Spielberg just told me it was the best Oscars ever!’”

    Maybe he was just being nice.

    (All Photos: AP)

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