Pelted by critics of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards telecast over the last three days, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak quipped to TheWrap Thursday that he remains in a "bunker."
"I'll climb out as soon as I hear Winston Churchill say it's OK," he added, conceding that the host pairing of James Franco and Anne Hathaway wasn't as dynamic as hoped, but defending the overall ratings performance of the ABC telecast, which drew an average of 38 million viewers.
"We've been getting beaten up over the last three days," he noted.
Pairing attractive young actors as host instead of comedians, Sherak said Franco and Hathaway's performance during rehearsals inspired anticipation among Oscar producers. But he conceded that the chemistry fell apart during the actual telecast.
"If you watched them during (rehearsals), you really enjoyed yourself," he explained. "I thought it was the best stuff I'd seen in a while. Everybody felt really good about it. But for some reason, there was no connection on the show — there wasn't a connection between the two of them."
Sherak was quick to commend the youthful performers for "showing up" and working hard to perform a hosting gig that might be better suited to performers with stand-up comedy experience.
"I think what was missing from the show was someone who's used to coming back from a break and dealing with what just happened with a spontaneous joke. Because they're not comedians, we didn't get that."
While critics have eviscerated the Academy and show's producers, Sherak said a national poll of awards-watchers yielded largely positive results, with about 82 percent of 500 individuals surveyed expressing happy thoughts about the 28-year-old Hathaway and the 32-year-old Franco.
Meanwhile, Sherak commended the two hosts for completing the show in three hours and 10 minutes, the shortest Oscar telecast since 2005.
"I don't hear any of the critics talking about that," Sherak noted.