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.
But the reason the film academy decided 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.
You and I know the host doesn’t necessarily determine a trophy show’s median age. Take last year’s 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 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. (Earlier that night, over on CBS, Sheen’s Charlie Harper character was run over by a train in Paris and Ashton Kutcher moved in to his Malibu mansion, ending one of the most public breakups of a TV star from his hit series in TV history.)
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 mic’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 mic-less-ness 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 button. 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.
Back in August, it was widely reported NBC late night star Jimmy Fallon would host the next Oscar show, which would be executive produced by his mentor, Lorne Michaels.
Turned out, that report was not right — on either count.
In August, Fallon stopped by “Today” show’s operations at the London Summer Olympics to tell Matt Lauer it was “an honor to be asked but it’s not my year,” though it’s unclear if that ever got beyond the “talking” stage, according to insiders — and the film academy announced that Broadway, film and TV producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron would produce the upcoming Academy Awards, not Michaels.
You may know Craig and Neil as the exec producers of NBC series “Smash.”
You may also know Craig and Neil as exec producers of the movie that won the Best Picture Oscar at what became, at that time, the least watched Academy Awards on record. The year was 2003 and the movie, “Chicago.”
Craig and Neil also produced or exec produced the ABC teleflick “Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadow,” CBS’s Bette Midler version of “Gypsy,” the controversial miniseries “The Reagans,” both rounds of the feature flick “Footloose,” and the Broadway re-stagings of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Promises, Promises.”
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 where he performed in blackface.
More credit for those decent ratings was given to Jennifer Lopez’s left nipple played 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.
Here’s MacFarlane on “Saturday Night Live”:
And here's MacFarlane at the Charlie Sheen roast::