By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 30, 2012 at 4:21PM
The producers of this year's Oscar show, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, actively pursued TV writer/producer/comedian Seth Macfarlane as the host, they told me. "Of course we wanted Tina Fey!" they responded, but they knew that she was already committed to doing the far less stressful Golden Globes. And they are changing up the Oscarcast considerably. They've been studying shows of Oscar past to see what worked--and didn't.
As musical producers it makes sense that they admire 1969's Gower Champion and 2009's Bill Condon and Larry Mark kudocasts. And they're also willing to bring back performances of Oscar-nominated songs. Basically, if Adele gets her surefire nomination for "Skyfall," they're game.
One change: there's no Billy Crystal-style opening montage short this year. And Macfarlane, the creator of hits "Ted" and "Family Guy," is working with his own writing team this time around. "We want it to be funny!" Meron said.
"In re-imagining what we want the Oscar show to be," they said, "we wanted everyone appearing on that stage to feel a deep commitment to film and its legacy, and most importantly, its future."
Thus another innovation intended to reach out to younger audiences comes from Macfarlane, who was the last guest professor for mtvU's "Stand In" series. "Stand In" guests teach a class based on his or her area of expertise and experience. Previous teachers include Madonna, Russell Simmons, Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
At UCLA, Macfarlane announced "The Oscar Experience College Search," a collaboration between mtvU and the Academy to find the "next generation of Oscar hopefuls." The students will vie for the opportunity to deliver little gold men to Oscar presenters onstage at the February 24 telecast.
Check out details on the search on the Academy's Facebook page. Here's more info:
The Oscar Experience College Search will run through January 19, 2013. To enter, college students need to demonstrate they’re destined for the Oscars by completing the Academy’s entry form and uploading a video answering the question: How will you contribute to the future of movies? The producers of this year’s Awards show will ultimately pick a minimum of six winners, who will be flown to Los Angeles to participate in the 85th Academy Awards on Oscar Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center.