James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host Oscars

James Franco and Anne Hathaway are to host the 83rd annual Academy Awards. Last year, Hathaway had joined Academy president Tom Sherak to announce the nominations. Those Oscars were emceed by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, two vets who had shown their ability to handle hosting duties on a live TV show by racking up record number of appearances on “Saturday Night Live.” Hathway fronted that late-night staple again last week, earning rave reviews as had Franco with his pair of appearances on “SNL.”

Franco is certain to be a Best Actor nominee this year for “127 Hours.” Our 18 experts have him as a solid second behind Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”).  He would be the first Academy Awards host who is also a nominee since Paul Hogan contended for his “Crocodile Dundee” script in 1986. The Aussie wag — who was co-hosting the kudos with “Foul Play” pair Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase — made merry with his loss in that race to Woody Allen (“Hannah and Her Sisters”).

In a statement, kudocast producers Don Mischer and Bruce Cohen said, “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. We are completely thrilled that James and Anne will be joining forces with our brilliant creative team to do just that.”

At 32 and 28 respectively, Franco and Hathaway will rank among the youngest hosts of the Oscars. Hawn was 30 when she co-hosted the 48th Academy Awards honoring the best films of 1975 as was Diana Ross when she co-hosted the kudos two years earlier. Donald O’Connor was 29 when he emceed the Los Angeles portion of the 26th Academy Awards saluting the top films of 1953.

This is only the second time that Franco will be appearing on the Oscars; he presented Live Action Short Film two years ago along with his “Pineapple Express” co-star Seth Rogen and two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. That show marked Hathaway’s fourth time on the show and she dazzled with her singing and dancing in the opening number with Hugh Jackman.

Jackman — who shared in the Emmy nomination for that kudocast — reportedly declined an offer to return as emcee this year. That night, Hathaway was a Best Actress nominee for “Rachel Getting Married” but lost to Kate Winslet (“The Reader”). This year, one of our 18 experts has her in the running for her lead performance in “Love and Other Drugs.”

During her first “SNL” stint in 2008, Hathaway parodied the Oscar-winning performance of her “Princess Diaries” co-star Julie Andrews in “Mary Poppins.”

Photos: Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway at the 81st Annual Academy Awards; James Franco, Janusz Kaminski and Seth Rogen at the 81st Annual Academy Awards (AMPAS)

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