Oscar News: Banksy Denied, Russell Brand And Scarlett Johansson Announced As Presenters

There’s just five days to go until the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, so you’d better start hedging your bets now. And, no, not on whether Annette Bening will pull a Best Actress upset over Natalie Portman, but if Banksy will pull one over on the Oscar producers during the telecast.

It was reported earlier this month that the controversial street artist, who is nominated for Best Documentary for his whip smart, is-it-real-or-not-docu-comedy “Exit Through The Gift Shop,” was causing a bit of anxiety for Oscar producers. So much so that Academy president Tom Sherak had allegedly met with “Exit” producer Jaimie D’Cruz to make sure that if the film did win, someone other than Banksy would appear on stage to collect the award.

Sherak and executive director Bruce Davis reportedly feared that Banksy — who never reveals his face and often hides under a monkey mask — would take the class right out of the joint if he were to make the Oscar stage his own piece of performance art in his simian get-up. As Davis explained it to Entertainment Weekly, “The fun but disquieting scenario is that if the film wins and five guys in monkey masks come to the stage all saying, ‘I’m Banksy,’ who the hell do we give it to?”

It seems like Davis and Sherak are sticking to their guns, at least according to the UK’s Metro. They’ve reported that Banksy (who may or may not have left his mark on Los Angeles recently with paintings of Charlie Brown smoking a cigarette and pouring a can of gasoline), has had his request to the Academy chiefs to attend in disguise declined.

Still, one has to imagine — if only for the sake of memorable television — Banksy (who called the nomination “a big surprise” in a statement) has some sort of trick up his sleeve.

But, Banksy hasn’t been the only one whose had to hit the brakes with the Academy. Oscar co-host, nominee and brand new celebrity tweeter James Franco joked from his page on Monday (February 21) that his rendition of “You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me” from “Burlesque” got a resounding “no” from his Oscar bosses.

Franco, who recently poked fun at his upcoming gig in a “Funny or Die” clip, tweeted, “they pulled this from the oscar show. damn it,” and then posted an audio clip of his tone-deaf take on the tune.

Is it wrong that I kind of enjoyed this better than Cher’s original version (which, surprisingly, did not receive a Best Song nomination?) I know he’s kidding, but Franco’s purposefully terrible singing might make for an even more delightfully confusing moment than Banksy in a monkey mask. Then again, it’s more than likely that all the singing will be left in the very capable pipes of his co-host Anne Hathaway.

Finally, it was announced on Tuesday (February 22) that actress Scarlett Johansson and actor/comedian Russell Brand are joining the line-up of presenters. It will be the first time the funnyman will attend the Academy Awards (no word yet on whether wife Katy Perry will be by his side), but with all the recent backlash on Ricky Gervais for his Golden Globes gig, here’s hoping that Brand (who stars in the upcoming remake of the comedy classic, not to mention Oscar-winner, “Arthur“) doesn’t shy away from using his own style of big, brash British humor.

The 2011 Oscars will air live on ABC from the Kodiak Theater in Hollywood at 8 p.m. EST.

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