First Interview: New Oscar Host Seth MacFarlane 'Ecstatic' About The Job

Seth MacFarlane was approached to host the 85th Oscars fairly recently, although he says he can’t remember if it was before or after his successful hosting gig on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live on September 15. It was “roughly around the same time”, he tells Deadline in a conference call with Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron this morning just after the Academy’s announcement.

Related: EXCLUSIVE: Seth MacFarlane Oscar Host

The producers had “promised” the Academy they would name a host by the end of September, and they met the deadline. “He was great on SNL, he’s an amazing, amazing host and we’re well aware of the multi-faceted Seth. It has been a great year for him, so why not have him be considered. I think what we wanted was the consummate host, whatever came along with that package and we think Seth is that person,” said Meron. Zadan adds they had been talking about MacFarlane for a long time and wanted to work with him one day. They informed the Academy of their idea and started to get everyone on board even from the moment they first got the Oscar job. “The thing that makes us most excited about Seth is that in order for us to produce a show that is versatile and has great entertainment value, the more diverse the host is the better the show”, Zadan says. “The fact is Seth does everything. He does comedy, he sings, he dances, he’s a great comic writer; I could go on and on. He just does so many things so well, he gives us an embarrassment of riches to create a show that is really entertaining”.

As for MacFarlane, he’s “ecstatic. I was surprised. I have done a fair amount of hosting in the past but nothing of this magnitude. I was very, very pleasantly surprised.” He says the timing is great since Tedwhich he wrote and directed and voiced the title character — has been  a much bigger hit than anyone imagined and it gives him an added foothold in the motion picture business, rather than someone primarily just known for TV work.

So what kind of plans does he have for the show? “It’s so early on, it’s hard to give a specific answer to that”, MacFarlane says. “It is the Academy Awards so I think you can expect anything. It’s the Oscars so you always want a musical component and you want an injection of comedy and so I think it will be a mix of many elements”. He added that he doesn’t plan to copy other hosts and specifically mentions Johnny Carson but says he “would never dare to try and emulate him, he’s my favorite host”.

Related: Seth MacFarlane’s Big Oscar News: Video

MacFarlane is not afraid of the live aspects of the show either, even after his gaffe last week at the Emmys when as a presenter he went to the wrong mike and couldn’t be heard, but he quickly made a joke of it: “I have done a lot of live gigs over the past several years, many with a hosting component and you sort of learn to just kind of roll with it and if something comes up that is kind of a surprise you just learn to turn lemons into lemonade and make a joke, and generally the crowd is with you.”

MacFarlane is aware the audience for the Oscars is different than other gigs and in fact many in the room are extremely nervous, but he says the key is to entertain that live audience and if they enjoy it, so will the TV audience. But just how edgy will a guy known for pushing boundaries go with his humor? “I think it’s  important to adapt to the production at hand. I wouldn’t do the show the same way I would do a roast and vice versa”, he says. “The trick is really going to be to make it as funny as I can and true to what I do but at the same time respectfully adapting the tone for this event which is a very different event than I have been a part of in the past. What that tone is has yet to be determined but it is something I am going to keep a watchful eye on”.

As for the writing staff who will help with that tone, producers have not had creative meetings to talk about hiring. But will there be a shakeup from past shows that may not have worked as well as hoped? “You said it, we didn’t,” Zadan says. “We are talking about writers that we admire or are excited about, that we want to work with. There are writers that Seth works with that he’s excited about. When we put the writers list together I am sure it will be a conglomeration of people we all want but it is hard to say since Seth has had the job for exactly one day. That process will hopefully start next week. We’ll certainly look at all options.”

Even though MacFarlane’s shows, Family Guy and American Dad!, are strongly associated with Fox, the producers said that was no problem for anyone including ABC, the network that broadcasts the Oscars, because as a performer MacFarlane is not directly associated with any one network.

Does the MacFarlane move now mean we will see Ted as a presenter on the show? “He costs too much money. That’s a $6 millon dollar presenter. And the perks are outrageous,” the producers said. I am still betting they find a way to work the foul-mouthed teddy bear into the year’s biggest show.

As for his own fondest memories of past Oscar shows, MacFarlane had to think about the question. “It’s been on and off over the years. I have seen many more Oscar shows than I have missed. I have missed a few for various reasons. But I don’t know. Odd bits like Juliette Lewis’ cornrows pop up. Why that’s the first thing that comes to mind I don’t know but that is the most honest answer I can give you.”

Oscar expert or not, MacFarlane, who is widely known for his work in animation, already seems to have his confidence level up about the job after researching it. “I am looking at this list of past hosts and it says Donald Duck hosted one year. It says he shared hosting duties with somebody — doesn’t say what year. I think we are gonna be just  fine,” he laughs.

    1. What are the odds that we’ll have to listen to MacFarlane attempt to sing again? I’ve got my earplugs on standby.

  1. so now the AMPAS is choosing hosts on their SNL hosting abilities (i.e. Alec Baldwin, Anne Hathaway, James Franco)?

    1. His shows are unwatchable. At their best the Oscars are nearly unwatchable. That’s about 60% too much unwatchable. I don’t think I’ll watch.

    2. REALLY? Spanky MacFarlane is going to host the Academy Awards!
      Can’t wait for Alfalfa to hand out Best Picture. OTAY!!!

  2. Who? … Unless you’re a 12-year-old boy or Adult comicbook nerd, which are basically one in the same No one in America knows who this guy is. Nobody watches The Family Guy. And a woman with taste I wouldn’t date any guy that would proudly proclaim to have seen “Ted.”
    This move makes the AMPAS seen REALLY desperate. Watch the ratings drop precipitously.

    1. Just Sayin’, you obviously have your nose stuck in the air and are completely out of touch with what is even remotely popular. Plenty of people know who Seth Macfarlane is; plenty of people watch Family Guy; and as a woman who claims to have taste, comedy is clearly not your cup of tea. In conclusion, I am CERTAIN you and your 8 cats will be watching the Oscars. Alone.

    2. You are incorrect and unfortunately out of touch. “Family Guy” gets high demo ratings. It’s syndicated nationally and it gets good ratings in syndication. It’s also airs in over 25 countries.

      The show generates Ad revenue and Licensing Revenue. Enough that FOX gave MacFarlane 100 million for 5 years of his animated shows.

      Finally, he has almost 3 million Twitter followers. More than many of the celebs who are on the cover of many magazines every month.

      To say “no one knows who he is” is just reaching.

    3. Darling, this is LA. You’d be lucky to date a man you can take home to your father who won’t hit on him.

    4. Had to laugh at this “ladies” comment Seth Mcfarlene as a writer an actor a director god the list goes on anyway he is one of the most talented stars in the world has been for years. His shows are a success all over the world and now after Ted he has the world waiting on the edge of their seats for his next movie oh and just so you no anyone who goes to the over used “who?” remark about a celeb absolutly knows who they are saying “who” really is. Its the remark that silly little teenage girls use to try and sound superior to whom they use it on and just comes across as bitchy and very pathetic.

  3. Hey… Hey… Hey… “Ted” was a terrific show, very well written with a heart. “The Book of Morman” is a hit on Broadway and Los Angeles. Seth will make a great host. Count me in… I’m going to be watching. P.S. I’m 67 and not a kid.

    1. Book of Mormon?? That would be Matt Stone and Trey Parker! Not Macfarlane.

      I absolutely respect MacFarlane’s talents…. as a creator and a performer…however as an Oscar host….not so much…I fear….The truth is that no matter who hosts…they’ll get torn apart by the media in one way or another…I could not believe the negative reviews I read about Billy Crystal last year who should just be the Host each year (IMO)….. But MacFarlane as host seems to be reaching for the “younger/hipper audience demographic ” and that has yet to work in any given year. So if that’s the case..why not go with a Host that speaks to all generations? Neil Patrick Harris comes to mind … I just don’t think MacFarlane will “feel the love” from a lot of Academy members there and I think it’s a shame …..but then again…it’s what’s historically been the case.

  4. Glad to hear this, MacFarlane brings more than just his humor to the table. He also reminds me of old school comedy before the politically correct crowd pushed their agenda on the rest of the world. I’m looking forward to it.

  5. I know full well Seth MacFarlane can successfully host the Oscars. That being said, it’s obvious the Academy did this because it desperately wants male viewers. I don’t think it’ll make a difference, but if anything could, getting Seth to host might do it.

  6. The #1 rule of marketing is “first do no harm”. Obviously, this isn’t taken into consideration with the sorry choice of this little-talent ego freak as host for the Oscars. Yes, it might reel in some younger viewers, but Seth and his recycled non-humor will turn off the core Oscar viewer. VERY bad choice for a telecast that has been suffering in recent years.

  7. He might be good if only they don’t have Bruce Vilanch head writing the show. He was very good for years, but c’mon, time for new blood.

  8. If this motherfucker starts singing big band style during the show I’m going to puke and so is everybody else. Don’t do it.

    HORRIBLE choice.

  9. So the Academy decided of all people, to let this fool host the most important awards show of the year? What next? His co-host being the teddy bear from his film? This guy is a total douche.

  10. Any host will get roasted simply because the Oscar’s format is stale, and nobody has the guts or power to change it. Seth certainly can’t be any worse than last year’s host.

  11. AMPAS has not only hit rock bottom…now it’s drilling down even further…a bland no-talent host (whose singing parodies buble)…why not just very modestly…very quietly get the liberal hollywood voters w/ the equally liberal winners together @ the roosevelt hotel & hurriedly in 10 minutes exchange the awards…then shamelessly jettison out into the dark of night…absolutely no words spoken (& only furtive glances made)in the meeting…

  12. Seth IS talented. He may be unconventional and atypical, but that doesnt erase his abilities. How many people do you know that about can do so many things fairly well. Most people are lucky if they can do ONE thing well. Can YOU draw a wide variety of cartoon characters and voice most of them with such a variance? Can you sing like an old time crooner like sinatra or martin and never be off key? Can you dance? Can u write unconventional yet past-reflective comedy? Can you do ALL of these things? An at a fairly young age? Doubt it! I dont agree with his political or religious views, but i would describe him, simply put, as variety entertainer. He likes to entertain and is confident enough to do it in a number of areas. As far as his ego, i cant comment. I dont know the guy. Its okay if he recognizes his own talents as long as he recognises others talents as well. I saw him host SNL and thought he did great. Oh well. I like the guy in most ways. Just my opinion. If u feel differently, good for u for u. It doesnt matter one way or another. Ya either like the guy or dont. Big deal. Cheers!

  13. Funny how all these prissy, stick-up-their-butts are lamenting the fact that MacFarlane hosted the Oscars. Funnier? That the show garnered a 20% INCREASE in viewers. Some people need to be chewing on that humble pie. Seth MacFarlane made the Oscar telecast suck so much less.
    No, if they would do away with the two hour, idiotic parade of fashion beforehand, that would be great.

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