The announcement that Seth MacFarlane would be hosting this year’s Oscars caught many by surprise. Even though he’s hugely successful among fan boys and frat boys, the 39-year-old creator of "Family Guy" does not have the star power of previous hosts. Why was he picked? What could go wrong? And who is this guy, anyway? An investigation.
THE STRATEGY: The Academy is keen to court the 18- to 49-year-old demographic coveted by advertisers, despite the train-wreck that was James Franco’s and Anne Hathaway’s co-hosting in 2011 (that’s them bombing above). MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” is usually at the top of the ratings in that demographic. His feature-film directorial debut, last year’s “Ted,” became the highest earning R-rated original comedy of all time, with more than $469-million in revenue.
THE FUNNYMAN: MacFarlane’s humour is a mix of fan boy references and frat boy poop jokes. It’s also been accused of casual misogyny, sexism and racism. He may be famous as the creator of animated shows – “Family Guy,” “American Dad!,” “The Cleveland Show” – but his comedy is for guys old enough to smoke a bong, and immature enough to wish they were doing it with a foul-mouthed teddy bear, as in the film Ted, a scene from which is seen here.
THE TONE: MacFarlane has acknowledged that the Oscars telecast has a distinct tone and that he’ll be working within its “parameters.” He has also consulted Billy Crystal about hosting duties. Crystal (seen here in a photo from 2000, one of the nine times he hosted the Oscars) might be the closest thing we have to Bob Hope, but he’s also … the closest thing we have to Bob Hope. Don’t expect too much edginess.
THE SKILL SET: The Oscars love a song-and-dance-man host, and MacFarlane has at least the song part down. In 2011, he released the album “Music is Better Than Words.” He also proved to be a capable live performer when he hosted “Saturday Night Live” last September. Plus, he can do a lot of impressions – expect at least one featuring a thick New England accent that sounds a lot like Peter Griffin on “Family Guy.”
THE SHADOW: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler so completely owned the Golden Globes this year that it will be difficult for many viewers and critics not to compare MacFarlane’s performance to theirs. He’s even said himself that they should probably host the Oscars next year. He can probably only do better than Crystal did last year, but Fey and Poehler are tough acts to follow.