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Academy Chases Young Male Demo with Oscar Host Seth MacFarlane [VIDEO]

by Anne Thompson
October 1, 2012 12:52 PM
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Seth MacFarlane.

At last week's HBO Emmy party, Seth MacFarlane was in good spirits as the question of his hosting the 85th Oscarcast made the rounds. He's a hit on TV ("Family Guy") and as host of several awards shows around town, including the WGA Awards. Now, having written and directed Universal summer hit "Ted" ($420 million worldwide) he even has movie cred.

I was hoping against hope that Universal's "Les Miserables" awards contender would propel musically gifted stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway into host contention. (Surely they will be presenters.) But the hosting gig goes to another Universal star, MacFarlane, as the Academy and ABC continue--Billy Crystal was a last-minute act of filling in, clearly, when the producer-host combo Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy blew up-- to push relentlessly for a younger demo.

MacFarlane can be inside-Hollywood funny, and he can perform a musical number too. I laughed heartily at his take on "The Music Man"'s "Trouble" below. And he's a gifted comic writer.  But he's not the class act some other choices--Jackman, Steve Martin, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tina Fey come to mind--might have been. He's on the crass and young-male-demo side of the equation, if you ask me.

Hugh Jackman

"It's truly an overwhelming privilege to be asked to host the Oscars," said MacFarlane, whose appearance on the February 24 ABC telecast will be his first. "My thoughts upon hearing the news were, one, I will do my utmost to live up to the high standards set forth by my predecessors; and two, I hope they don't find out I hosted the Charlie Sheen Roast."

"We are thrilled to have Seth MacFarlane host the Oscars. His performing skills blend perfectly with our ideas for making the show entertaining and fresh," said telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. "He will be the consummate host, and we are so happy to be working with him."

MacFarlane gave the Meron and Zadan a comfort zone as a live performer. He not only rocked when he made his debut as host of the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live," but has played to sold-out audiences at London's Royal Albert and New York's Carnegie Hall. His 2011 debut album, "Music Is Better Than Words," earned two Grammy® nominations.

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More: Academy Awards, Awards, Awards, Oscars


  • Jamie | October 1, 2012 5:41 PMReply

    MacFarlane is funny and talented, so I hope for the best but it still feels too much like some sort of self promotion garbage from ABC and the Academy rather than outstanding performances from all sources that the Oscars truly needs. With you I wanted music, music, music so hope this will still happen despite obvious 18-24 male demo commercial pitch.

  • Greg Kachel | October 1, 2012 3:37 PMReply

    MacFarlane is always going to be one of the smartest, funniest people in any room. That he can think on his feet goes without saying. That he could might expand the AA-viewing demo is terrific. Brilliant casting.

  • Brian | October 1, 2012 1:50 PMReply

    I don't know much about McFarlane. Never seen him in anything. Never seen anything he's done. He may be an unknown entity to a lot of other older viewers as well. Is he that popular that he might pull in millions of, y'know, actual young viewers? Or is this another strategy doomed to failure like the Hathaway/Franco fiasco?

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