After his Santa Barbara Film Festival appearance I remarked that James Franco “was so Zen and relaxed and articulate in a kind of shoulder-shrugging way that he wound up seeming like the coolest, most spiritually together guest this festival has ever hosted.” Obviously this quality didn’t work as well when Franco co-hosted the Oscars. The consensus, clearly, is that he bombed. His stock has dropped. The thing he seemed to have going in doesn’t seem as cool now.

Yesterday afternoon TheWrap‘s Steve Pond reported an interesting observation from an Oscar staffer who watched Franco and co-host Anne Hathaway during rehearsals. The staffer “suggested that Franco knew he was unsuited to be an Academy Awards host, and so decided to be ‘too cool for school…and hope that he could come off as the James Dean version of Sonny to Anne’s perky, Mary Tyler Moore version of Cher.'”

Franco wasn’t high, despite widespread suspicions to the contrary. He made it clear in Santa Barbara that he doesn’t drink or do drugs, and a good friend who knows him well repeated that fact this morning. “He was totally sober and that was him, same as in Santa Barbara,” she wrote. “Did they think they were going to get something different?

They expected an emcee with some flash and dash, I replied. Franco was just his cool serene self, I get that, fine…but the community saw this as spacey or aloof or otherwise “not there.” They felt that what he did/projected wasn’t enough.

“If Franco and his people are smart, he’ll talk to someone like me today and try and chill things out,” I added. He could/should declare definitively that he wasn’t baked on Oscar night and that he never lights up anyway. The point that everyone has been making, I realize, is that he conveyed a buzzed quality with or without nature’s fortification. Either way he needs to spin this a bit.