James Franco Breaks the Bay Area's Oscar Drought

Monday, Nov 29, 2010  |  Updated 12:15 PM PDT
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James Franco Breaks the Bay Area's Oscar Drought

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James Franco, known for his roles in Milk and the Spider-Man series as well as the cult favorite TV show Freaks and Geeks, was accepted into Yale's English Ph.D. program. The actor is currently wrapping up his MFA in Writing at Columbia University and has an undergraduate degree in English from UCLA.

Not since Robin Williams in 1986 has someone from the Bay Area hosted the Oscars.

Even then, the comedian moved to the Bay Area from Chicago. To find an Oscar host born in a city with a Bay Area name, you have to go back to 1948 and Dick Powell. But even he was born in Mountain View, Arkansas and not in California.

But the Bay Area's Oscar drought will officially come to an end Feb. 27 when for the first time in the 83 year history of the awards a Bay Area native will be the host.

It was announced Monday that the pride of Palo Alto, James Franco, will serve as the master of ceremonies for this year's installment of Hollywood's biggest night. He will be joined on stage by co-host Anne Hathaway, who joins a long list of New York natives who have served in the role.

The 32-year-old actor grew up in Palo Alto to two parents who met while students at Stanford University. Growing up in the shadows of academia has played a prominent role in Franco's life.

After graduating from Palo Alto High School in 1996, Franco went to UCLA where he dropped out after a year. But after finding early success as an actor, he returned to Southern California to earn his degree from UCLA and has since gone on to earn multiple masters degrees and is currently pursuing his PhD in English from Yale.

All the while, Franco has continued to act, earning critical acclaim for his role as a toked out drug dealer in "Pineapple Express."

But two of Franco's most praised roles also show signs of his Bay Area upbringing. In 2008 he played the role of Scott Smith in Sean Penn's movie about slain San Francisco politician Harvey Milk. He also played the role of famed Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg in the 2010 movie "Howl."

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