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Seth MacFarlane, Oscars Host? The Pros and the Cons

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Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Seth MacFarlane will host next year’s Academy Awards. Yes, that Seth MacFarlane. And yes, those Oscars. The ones about the movies.

It is definitely a bold choice, which is a nice way of saying surprising, which is a nice way of saying mind-boggling. Even if you loved Ted, MacFarlane is not deeply associated with the movies. (Though that didn’t stop, for instance, Johnny Carson from being a beloved Oscars host for years.) His three animated shows on Fox are still going strong, but their comic sensibility is not exactly that of the typical Oscars, nor is the Oscar audience necessarily his.

Still, as a business move, there may be something to be said for the strategy of people-who-were-going-to-watch-the-Oscars-regardless-plus-some-extra-young-folks. So let’s lay out the potential pros and cons of having MacFarlane as a host.

First, the pros:

* Show Tunes! There actually is a way in which his sensibility dovetails with the Oscars, and that’s a love of big production numbers. The guy can honest-to-God sing (see above), and he’s very comfortable on a live stage in a tux. I can’t imagine that MacFarlane would get a gig like this and not use it as an excuse to belt it out, Broadway-style.

* The Guy Is Funny. I’m not a fan of the non-sequitur, throw-everything-in-a-blender style of MacFarlane’s Family Guy, but even I have to admit some of those disconnected gags that the manatees write can kill. More important, he can be funny as Seth MacFarlane and not Peter Griffin, as he showed, for instance, in Comedy Central’s Charlie Sheen roast. Which brings up the fact that …

* He Can Host. He’s done roasts, he’s done SNL, and he has a kind of old-Hollywood, glad-handing expansiveness about him, which makes me see how someone could see him as an awards host.

But that brings us to the cons:

* But an Oscars Host? I could totally see MacFarlane emceeing the Emmys or the less reverent Golden Globes — or, hell, the Tonys (again, show tunes!). The Oscars, though, are still very traditional awards, a tough place for MacFarlane to be MacFarlane.

* Seth MacWho? MacFarlane is famous, but a certain kind of famous. Fans of his shows know him, and many even recognize him as a nonanimated human. But he’s not an on-camera performer first — he’s a creator, writer and voice actor — which makes this debut a stretch at least.

* Can He Pull It Off? Maybe MacFarlane is the kind of guy who can do whatever he sets his mind to — create a network hit in his 20s, make a movie, sing show tunes — but while he has some experience hosting, his record doesn’t necessarily suggest he’s born for this job. His most recent gig, hosting SNL‘s season debut, felt stiff (when he wasn’t retreating into Family Guy voices), and he was conspicuously staring at the cue cards/prompter during his sketches. And the skills of a roastmaster are not quite those of an Oscar host, who needs to make tens of millions of viewers feel comfortable.

I’ll say this for the pick, anyway: it got my attention. Whether or not the awards race itself is compelling, I’ll be very interested to see if this move is a triumph or a Quagmire.

27 comments
f_galton
f_galton

Cons: Not classy, funny, or talented.

Pros: Neither is Hollywood these days.

Rumionemore
Rumionemore

OK, I skimmed the article. Now I know who he is. The Oscars are always pretty boring. I record them and watch only who wins categories that interest me.

Mo Stewart
Mo Stewart

Its a boring award show, what is the big deal who hosts? Im baffled at the amount of Press this has gotten. Im a HUGE movie fan...like I live in the theater but I can care less who wins an award for what...I mean kudos to them n all but media making it seem like dude going to the moon. I love Seth n even worse, I love family guy but his hosting will not force me to sit thru that 8hr Long colonoscopy.

Yacko
Yacko

I don't get it. Ricky Gervais was hated. So next year they choose a guy who looks a bit like Gervais, can do a British accent and has a tremendous mean streak. Go figure.

Robert Cullen
Robert Cullen

Great choice and he was fine on SNL. I'll make a prediction... "Hwen Harry Met Sally" or "Hwite Chicks" will be referenced in Stewies voice at some point.

RobertMD
RobertMD

It's the Oscar's, not the presidential debates....although both could be very funny.

megan03
megan03

To invite a host for the Oscars whose mind-set is filth rather than entertainment is ridiculous.  He has almost no connection with the movie industry unless you consider his raunchy "Ted" which was disgusting.  If the Academy was pandering to fans of dirty cartoons, they have picked just the guy.

moviedemon
moviedemon

Not a huge fan of Family Guy - but outside of that show, MacFarlane is funny,  adaptable, and has a definite charm in front of an audience. And unlike some previous recent hosts (namely James Franco) who kind of took the gig for granted, I think MacFarlane will really put a lot of thought and prep into his hosting duties.

I love Billy Crystal, but to be honest, his Oscar schtick is getting tired. MacFarlane might be seen as a risky choice but considering how boring the Oscars have been the last few years, he's the only reason I'll be watching this time around.

sqweasel
sqweasel

I won't be watching regardless of who is hosting because award shows

suck *alls, but MacFarlane has is talented, funny, and has a history of

successes.  I do look forward to the highlights reel, however.

iSkyscraper
iSkyscraper

To paraphrase tromero:

Love this fellow and his "work" passionately.  If he's hosting, I will be watching.

Also, not sure what planet the author was on, but his SNL gig won universal acclaim as the best hosting job in a long, long time.

tromero
tromero

Dislike this fellow and his "work" passionately.  If he's hosting, I won't be watching.

GM52246
GM52246

Gervais hosted the Golden Globes. Doubt he'd ever be invited to do the Oscars, partially because he has that mean streak. MacFarlane's a lot friendlier (see "SNL.")

megan03
megan03

I believe James Franco was a presenter--not an emcee.  And if MacFarlane is the only reason you're watching the Oscars,  you must not be much of a movie fan.  When most people watch the Oscars, it's not to see a "risky choice" as host--it's to see who is being recognized for their craft.  Too bad the Academy didn't think of that when picking emcees.

BrianAdam
BrianAdam

Miguel said I am shocked that any one can earn $8203 in 1 month on the network. have you seen this(Click on menu Home)   

Dave Von
Dave Von

 You must have no sense of humor, then.

Doomsday
Doomsday

Whatever, they have had far far worst hosts and its not like its quality programming where the people who win were actually deserving anyway. I haven't watch this B.S. in over 20 years. I can think of much better ways to waste my time.

moviedemon
moviedemon

James Franco was a co-host (with Anne Hathaway), not an emcee - and this year MacFarlane will be a solo host.  You must not be much of an Oscars fan.  ;)

I'm a huge movie fan - just maybe not so much an 'awards shows' fan as of late, and I'm certainly not alone. While I very much appreciate and respect what the Oscars are about, a host can make or break the show and I'm not about to apologize for refusing to sit through another lame Oscar Awards. I think the people being recognized for their craft deserve better than they've gotten the last few years.

So yes, I think MacFarlane will be a breath of fresh air, and I think he will surprise everyone with how well he does. And yes, he is the reason I will be watching this year, (unapologetically) rather than looking up the results online the next day.

Elisa Freese
Elisa Freese

James Franco amp; Anne Hathaway hosted the 2011 Oscars. 

Jud
Jud

 he's not that funny unless you are a drunk college kid.

megan03
megan03

You must have no sense of decency, then.

Orrin Konheim
Orrin Konheim

Agreed. Eddie Murphy would have been an excellent choice too.

Rumionemore
Rumionemore

Hey guys, sense of humor is a funny thing. Younger males like raunchy stuff because they're loaded with testosterone and will laugh at anything that has the F word in it or mentions female body parts. The Bevis and Butthead effect. Maybe the O's are hoping for a younger, more masculine audience.

Liz west
Liz west

You must have no sense of humor like tromero.