Oscars smackdown: James Franco v. Bruce Vilanch

Emmy-winning scribe Bruce Vlianch was part of the writing team for this year’s Oscars and is pinning the blame for the failure of the show on the shoulders of co-host James Franco. He chides the Oscar nominee (“127 Hours”) for turning in a low-energy performance telling Ross Urken (New York), “I have to call James Franco and tell him the show’s over. He doesn’t know. He took a nap and he woke up in class.”

He then takes an unneccesary swipe at Franco’s hectic schedule which kept him out of town till three days before the show. Given that the actor was in constant communication in the weeks prior, it shouldn’t have mattered whether he was there or not. Rather than accepting any responsibilty for the lack of laughs, Vilanch says, “I don’t think he realized how big a deal it is to do it until he was actually confronted with it.” The veteran writer also slapped down the efforts of co-host Anne Hathaway noting, “it’s outside of those guys’ comfort zones.”

Vilanch referenced the success of both Franco and Hathaway at hosting “SNL” where they were given comedy gold to mine. But as the old adage goes: If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage. Neither of them was given much to work with at the Oscars. They did the best anyone could with the stale gags and tired shtick written for them by Vilanch and company.

The old-school laffmeister is obviously far more comfortable writing material for the likes of Billy Crystal who, at 63, is older than the combined ages of Franco (32) and Hathaway (28). Vilanch, who got his start writing for “The Brady Bunch Hour” and “Donny & Marie,” thinks “the only people who know how to host those shows are people who get up onstage every night and say, ‘Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. A funny thing happened … ‘ Or people like Bette [Midler] who get up and sing all night and tell stories.”

Franco roared back via Twitter:  “Bruce, he let me down.” Then he tweeted this doctored photo:

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