MacFarlane to host Oscar telecast

October 1, 2012

Seth MacFarlane will host the next Academy Awards broadcast, and Fox and NBC Universal couldn’t be happier, even though the show’s airing on ABC.

MacFarlane, of course, is the force behind a good chunk of Fox’s Sunday “Animation Domination” franchise, having created “Family Guy” and co-created “American Dad!” and “The Cleveland Show.”

But the reason the film academy decided that MacFarlane’s first appearance on Oscar’s stage should be as host, the academy made very clear in Monday’s announcement, is because MacFarlane’s flick “Ted” — which he directed, co-wrote, produced and “starred” in as the voice of plush-toy bear Ted — has brought in more than $420 million in worldwide box office, making it one of the year’s highest-grossing films. Producer NBC Universal owes thanks to repeat viewing by young guys.

Yes, the film academy is making another bid to bring younger viewers to its orgy of trophy dispensing to the year’s brightest motion-picture luminaries.

Only, it’s a much smarter bid than two years ago, when the academy selected James “Phoning It In” Franco and Anne Hathaway to co-host the show, setting a new bar for Oscar-hosting awfulness.


Seth MacFarlane presents an award onstage at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Sept. 23, 2012, in Los Angeles. (John Shearer/INVISION/AP)

You and I know the host doesn’t necessarily determine a trophy show’s median age. Take the Hathaway/Franco-hosted show. Median age: 51 . Now look when Billy Crystal hosted in 1998. Median age: 41. Why? “Titanic” was up for Best Picture, resulting in record teen-chick Oscar viewing, according to Nielsen stats.

“I will do my utmost to live up to the high standards set forth by my predecessors . . . and I hope they don’t find out I hosted the Charlie Sheen roast,” MacFarlane said of his selection.

Anyway, the “Ted” reference is a bit embarrassing for Fox, having passed on the flick. We’re guessing that NBC Universal is as pleased as punch with the academy’s pick.

Although an Oscar virgin, MacFarlane is a seasoned show host. He recently got rave reviews for hosting the 38th-season debut of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

And the Charlie Sheen roast was the most-watched show in that long-running Comedy Central franchise, though we’re guessing that had more to do with Sheen being roasted.

Presumably, MacFarlane will be better prepared to host the Oscars than he was as a presenter at the recent Emmy Awards. Tapped to present the award for Best Reality Show Host, he began to read from the teleprompter — only no one could hear him because he was nowhere near a microphone.

“Oh, the mike’s over there! This is what happens when you don’t come to rehearsal,” he deadpanned in his “Family Guy” Stewie voice, when someone brought his mikelessness to his attention.

The 85th Annual Academy Awards will be broadcast by ABC on Sunday, Feb. 24, live across the country. And, by “live,” with MacFarlane hosting, we’re guessing that means a several seconds longer than usual delay, with the finger of the sharpest shooting member of the ABC Decency Police on the trigger. Upon learning of the Oscars’ choice, Parents TV Council tweeted its outrage, citing gags that he delivered during that “vile mélange of explicitly sexual, drug-oriented and racist ‘humor’ ” that was the Sheen roast.

MacFarlane is the bold hosting choice that the academy needed to make after last February’s debacle, in which Billy Crystal wound up getting his ninth hosting at-bat.

For the first time in maybe forever, that Oscars wound up attracting a smaller audience than did the Grammy Awards show, at which the music industry laid its heart at the feet of its fallen heroine, Whitney Houston.

Crystal was an 11th hour fill-in when designated host Eddie Murphy stepped down after Brett Ratner “resigned” as Oscar producer in the wake of a string of slur-and-potty-mouth moments at a movie screening and on Howard Stern’s radio show.

Although the Oscars scored nearly 40 million viewers — a good number for the franchise, and nearly 2 million better than the previous year — Crystal’s performance was generally panned. Especially the bit in which he performed in blackface.

More credit for those decent ratings was given to Jennifer Lopez’s left nipple playing hide-and-seek with her gown in the broadcast’s early moments and Angelina Jolie’s uber-ambitious right leg pulling an Eve Harrington and stealing the show, turning The Angelina into a Thing.

Perry signs with OWN

OWN network has struck an exclusive multi-year deal with Tyler Perry in which he will create scripted programming for the co-venture between Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications.

OWN will become Perry’s “singular destination” for all new TV series, including the network’s first two scripted shows, scheduled to debut in mid-2013. Perry will exec-produce, write and direct both series.

Winfrey and Perry previously collaborated on the flick “Precious.”

Until now, Perry’s TV series have run on TBS — including the very popular “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” “Meet the Browns” and “For Better or Worse.”

OWN will retain all the rights to Perry’s programming for the network, according to a network rep.

“Bringing Tyler Perry exclusively to OWN is a major coup. Today’s announcement demonstrates the power of the Oprah brand to attract some of the biggest names in television and film to OWN,” Discovery chief executive David Zaslav crowed Monday.

For previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, visit washingtonpost.com/tvcolumn .

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