Oscars 2011: Academy President Sticks Up For James Franco And Anne Hathaway

It could have been the lack of “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” cast members in attendance, or the fact that the momentum shifted from “The Social Network” to “The King’s Speech,” or the decision to “ban” Banksy, or the snubs for appealing stars like Ryan Gosling, Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield.

Whatever it was, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards did not draw, or captivate, the younger audience it had set its sights on this year by bringing in hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

But it wasn’t just the younger set that Franco and Hathaway failed to impress. Many have criticized the duo and the show itself as disjointed and unfunny in the days since the Oscars telecast. Now, Academy president Tom Sherak is speaking out in defense of the stars in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, explaining exactly why he doesn’t see the evening as a misstep.

“You can say we failed,” Sherak told THR of the 2011 Oscar telecast, which saw a 9% decline in audience and a rise in the median age of viewers (50.6 years). “I’d say we still got 38 million people. If we didn’t get younger like we wanted to, then when we sit down for next year to pick the producer and host, it is what we will try to accomplish.”

But some have suggested that the process of choosing the host(s) is already inherently flawed. Sherak, along with Oscar producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer, makes the decision on who will helm the ceremony.

An Academy member, who chose to remain unnamed, told THR, “The choice of hosts is a convoluted affair. It is left completely to the producers and president. There is no discussion with the board of governors.” The member went on to say about the choice of this years hosts, “A lot of us said Franco, who is a good actor, is the wrong guy when it was announced. We questioned the TV value of both hosts, and it turned out to be right.”

Even Sherak, who believes, “You can’t do this by committee. You will never have everybody agree,” admitted Franco and Hathaway didn’t translate as well to the small screen as he had hoped. He noted that “the chemistry seemed to be off” and that the comedic know-how, from Franco in particular, was simply not there.

“The problem is, in the past when you have a comic, that comic can play off what happens on the show,” he explained. “I think that was missing. I think they were doing their job. Franco is a very charming guy, but sometimes you need a comic to make fun of things.”

Still, Sherak is sticking behind his hosts: “Give them an A for guts to get up in front of everyone. People don’t want to do it. They don’t want to take the chance of hurting themselves. In today’s world especially, it is vicious.”

How do you think Franco and Hathaway performed as this year’s Oscar hosts? Tell us what you think in the comments section and on Twitter!