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Comedy Central's Roast of James Franco Draws Solid Ratings

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Comedy Central(NEW YORK) James Franco is an actor, a filmmaker, an author, a poet, and now, a ratings draw for Comedy Central.

The Comedy Central Roast of James Franco premiered on Labor Day to an audience of 3.1 million viewers.  That's an 18 percent increase from last year's roast of Roseanne Barr, though it pales in comparison to the number of viewers who tuned in to the debut of the Charlie Sheen roast in 2011: 6.4 million.   

Subsequent airings of the Franco roast late Monday and early Tuesday were seen by an additional two million people.

In the 100-minute special, Franco was roasted by the likes of Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Sarah Silverman, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, Aziz Ansari and Jeffrey Ross.

The timing of the broadcast worked out well for Franco, who could use the extra publicity.  His summer comedy This Is The End, which also starred Rogen and Hill, will return to theaters this Friday.  Not coincidentally, the film is about $3 million away from reaching the $100-million mark in domestic box office revenue.

Franco is also at the center of a new campaign to earn him a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for his performance in Spring Breakers.  This isn't a joke -- the distributor of the film has actually put out an ad of Franco in character, as a gangster rapper with cornrows, holding two Oscar statuettes while surrounded by co-stars Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson.  The ad urges Academy members to, "Consider this sh**."

Franco has been nominated for an Oscar once in his career, for his role in 127 Hours.  He probably won't receive another for Spring Breakers, despite the campaign.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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