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Tina Fey Defends Seth MacFarlane's Hosting of the Oscars: "It's the hardest job there is"

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood February 27, 2013 at 1:41PM

Seth MacFarlane has no plans to return to the Oscars. "No way," he tweeted. Tina Fey, for one, who hit it out of the park at the Globes with Amy Poehler, defends his performance as Oscar host. "It's the hardest job there is," she explains by phone. "It's a tough room. Seth did great."
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Seth MacFarlane
Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane has no plans to return to the Oscars. "No way," he tweeted. Tina Fey, for one, who hit it out of the park at the Golden Globes with Amy Poehler, defends his performance as Oscar host. "It's the hardest job there is," she explains by phone. "It's a tough room. Seth did great."

What makes hosting the Oscars so hard? "Everyone's nervous, and as the night goes on, more people in the room have lost. You have to play to the world and the room. Especially for a woman, it's the amount of time trying on dresses."

What made the Globes easier for her and Amy Poehler? "We had fun! It was a very different, more relaxed room. We finished shooting '30 Rock' right before Christmas, then came back to do the Globes right after Christmas. You go home, eat crackers and cookies, then the Globes were so much sooner in January than Amy and I wanted to believe. We worked for a couple of days on that. It's a much smaller gig! You don't have to pretape anything, don't have to make anything. We came back, the day we went out was the Friday before the Globes, we shot the final shot [for '30 Rock'] with Conan O'Brien in LA, finished the Globes, and went into post finishing the '30 Rock' finale, right before it aired."

Fey Poehler Golden Globes
Fey doesn't know if she and Poehler will do the Globes again. And while she enjoyed presenting on the Oscars with Steve Martin, it doesn't sound like she wants to host the Oscars anytime soon. Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meon knew she wasn't available this year, but as MacFarlane said on the Oscar show, the Academy is sure to ask again. Finally, Fey and Poehler do know how to play that inside/outside game, because they are bonafide showbiz insiders with defined personalities, they know how far they can go. And they're better writers. We're all still figuring out just who MacFarlane is. (Fey did tell HuffPo "No way," that there's not a one in a million chance she'd host the Oscars.)

Zadan and Meron said they picked MacFarlane as host because he was able to do all the things they needed him to do on their musical Oscars: sing, dance, write, and host. Well, he did the first two things better--winningly--than the latter two.

You'd never guess it was 2013 by the tone MacFarlane set Sunday night, or that women have more to offer than being "lovely" or providing fodder for fat jokes. Juvenile white male humor dominated the night, and in fact delivered the Academy's most-wanted audience: young, straight men who don't care about the Oscars. As @THRmattbelloni tweeted, "Most telling stat re @SethMacFarlane and the #Oscars: Ratings in 18-34 demo up 20%. Those are his fans." Another Twitter reaction came from "The Imposter" subject @Frédéric Bourdin: "@Francparler @SethMacFarlane Really, I am so glad that you did not give us an Oscar, it would have been too hard not to punch you in the mouth #idiot."

The problem is that the Academy has to figure not only how to play inside and outside the room, but to both young and mature audiences without alienating their core fanbase, which is older--the same demo that made all those nominated movies into hits. They would do well to remember that having hit movies in contention builds Oscar audiences more than do the hosts.

A sampling of reviews of the 85th Oscars and MacFarlane's hosting is below:

This article is related to: Academy Awards, Oscars, Awards, Awards, Barbra Streisand, Seth MacFarlane


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.