Creative-writing MFA student to co-host the Oscars

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James Franco will co-host the 83rd annual Oscar telecast on Feb. 27 with Anne Hathaway, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Monday.

Although most of the world knows Hathaway and Franco as talented young actors who can move from blockbusters to indie films and back again, book geeks know that Franco has a literary side.


Franco enrolled in Columbia University’s prestigious creative-writing MFA program in 2008; three credits shy of his degree, he stepped away from classes to film Danny Boyle’s ‘127 Hours.’

‘I’ve done my thesis, I’ve done everything,’ he told USA Today in May, which reported he sounded ‘pained’ that he’d left the program unfinished to go back to work. Sounding, in other words, like any other MFA who is oh-so-close to finishing his or her degree.

Whether he’s had a chance to wrap up those last credits yet, Franco’s literary career has surged ahead. His debut short-story collection, ‘Palo Alto,’ was published in October by Scribner.

Mary McNamara reviewed the book for The Times, describing it as ‘the work of an ambitious young man who clearly loves to read, who has a good eye for detail but who has spent way too much time on style and virtually none on substance.’

It’s easy to infer that Franco loves to read by the roles he’s chosen. Just this year, he starred as Allen Ginsberg in ‘Howl’ and appeared in the adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ And ‘Spider-Man’ was an adaptation too.

What’s more, Franco has recently gone on a movie-rights shopping spree, picking up Stephen Elliott’s ‘The Adderal Diaries’ and D.J. Waldie’s ‘Holy Land.’ He’s said to be adapting a biography of poet Hart Crane and the semi-autobiographical Charles Bukowski novel ‘Ham on Rye.’

That is, when he isn’t at his day job -- hosting the Academy Awards.

-- Carolyn Kellogg