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.
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 Ted — which 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”.