Now that the nominations have been announced, the fact that Seth MacFarlane is hosting the 85th Annual Academy Awards on February 24th has become that much more real for the funnyman. The creative force behind the animated series Family Guy and co-creator of American Dad! and The Cleveland Show, MacFarlane made his feature directorial debut last summer with Ted, which he also co-wrote, produced and voiced the title character for, and that went on to be one of the highest-grossing films of the year.
While talking to TCA members after the nominations were announced, MacFarlane said that they can get more specific in their jokes, now that they know who the nominees are, how he never thought he’d be offered the hosting gig, that he hopes to talk to former host Billy Crystal before showtime, that he figures there will be some singing involved, and even shared his own past Oscar memories. He also said that, although a sequel hasn’t officially been signed off on yet, a sequel to Ted looks promising and that everyone involved wants to do it. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Question: With the broadcast actually not that far away now, have you started thinking a lot more about how you want to approach it?
SETH MacFARLANE: Well, it allows us to get more specific because we were working with a knowledge of what movies were out there and what movies were most likely to get nominated, but we had no list of actual nominees. Today, that all changed. We have a list to work with. We have some targets for our jokes and we can really start digging into it.
Had you wanted to be a host prior to doing this?
MacFARLANE: No. That’s one thing I never thought would happen. This was, in every way, a complete surprise. I didn’t know I was being discussed. I didn’t know that my name had come up. It came out of the blue, and it made it that much more of a joy.
There is a lot of pressure on the host of the Oscars. Have you taken any advice from past hosts, as to how to handle all of it?
MacFARLANE: Before I get into the deep end of this, I do intend to call Billy Crystal and seek his wisdom. When was the last time you read a post-Oscar review where somebody in the entertainment press said, “What a great host!” The last one I think I can remember was probably Billy Crystal. I think a lot of them have been great, but you go into it knowing that, no matter what, even if you put on the greatest show in the world, you’re probably going to be lambasted in the press, so you might as well enjoy yourself and do the best you can, knowing that the outcome is going to be the same. It’s a ruthless bit of scrutiny that you’re under, so I’m not going to think about that. I’m just worrying about making it as funny as it can be, and as fun as it can be.
Are you planning on singing, as well?
MacFARLANE: We’re still working on all that. We’re working on our opening sequence. We’re still shaping the show. Of course, there’s an orchestra at the Oscars. Music is always a part of the ceremony. It remains to be seen exactly what form it will take, but it wouldn’t be the Oscars without music, I suppose.
Was part of your decision in agreeing to do this the fact that hosting the Oscars will expose you to a whole new audience?
MacFARLANE: No, I don’t really work with that kind of agenda. When I work on any project, it’s all about whether or not it sounds fun. No matter the capacity that I’m appearing in, whether it be as myself or a voiceover capacity, it’s all about whether the project is something that I want to show up and be a part of, every day. That’s a nice little perk, but it’s not something that I sought out. The project just sounded like a blast to me.
How are producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron helping you through this process?
MacFARLANE: Neil and Craig have produced countless great productions of musicals and television, film and stage, all the way back to Footloose. We’re still early on, in the process, but I’ve learned that the people who are the best at their jobs and the people who truly are the most gifted and talented, are also the people who are the most relaxed and most comfortable. They’re the best collaborators. There are no panic attacks with these guys. There’s no freaking out. It’s just a quiet confidence and a knowledge that they know exactly what they’re doing. They’ve done it like gangbusters, over and over again, and I think they’re gonna do it again this time.
What kind of memories you do have about watching the Oscars?
MacFARLANE: I haven’t seen all of the Oscar ceremonies. There a few that I’ve missed. But, my mother was a huge fan of the Oscars and never missed it. For some reason, the one Oscar image from the past that sticks out in my mind, more vividly than anything else, is Juliette Lewis in those cornrows. I don’t know why that is. It’s just the one image that’s glued to my brain. She made them fresh. I’ve been a fan like anyone else. It’s hard to find somebody who’s not at least a casual fan of the Oscars. I could not be more excited to be not only doing it, but doing it with this group.
Are there any plans to shoot Ted 2?
MacFARLANE: Nothing official yet. Everybody involved would like to do it, but it has not been officially signed off on yet. But, it’s very promising.
The Academy Awards airs on ABC on February 24th.