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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

December 1, 2010 at 4:25 PM

About those new Oscar hosts . . .

Busy week, and I keep meaning to get back to Monday’s announcement of Anne Hathaway and James Franco as this year’s Academy Award telecast hosts. New York Magazine’s Vulture blog has some interesting speculation today about the choice, from some Academy insiders. Apparently the Academy was eager to get a couple of glamorous young movie stars for the gig, as this year’s show is expected to “be especially dominated by art movies. The King’s Speech, The Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone, The Social Network — that sort of stuff. Outside of Inception, the biggest star in that bunch is Annette Bening. The [Academy’s board of] governors are going to love it, but ABC must be going insane.” That quote comes from a former producer of the show, and I’m not sure I’d agree with him/her that “The Social Network” is an art movie (though it’s terrific), but I see the point. Another anonymous source — an agent for a past Oscar host — takes a dim view of the no-win gig, which involves trying desperately to tell jokes to a roomful of nervous nominees who aren’t laughing. “If [Hathaway] was my client,” says the agent, “I’d tell her not to do it.”
More interesting is the discussion — this time with named sources — of the machinations behind last year’s choice of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin (who were, I thought, pretty funny). Adam Shankman, who produced the show last year, told Vulture his first choice was Sacha Baron Cohen, but the nervous Academy board of governors vetoed him. Shankman and co-producer Bruce Cohen then went on to the next two names on their list: Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller, both of whom I could see as doing a bang-up job. Both declined. Maybe their agents told them not to do it.

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