Seth MacFarlane on Why He Got Oscars Gig: 'I Was Sitting Outside Their Office'

Academy Awards show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron call the choice "an unique, fresh idea."

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who are producing the 85th Annual Academy Awards, announced Monday that they have selected Seth MacFarlane to host the show. MacFarlane, 38, has not appeared on the Oscars before, not even as a presenter, though he has appeared on other awards show like the recent Emmys and also successfully hosted the Writers Guild Awards dinner in 2010.

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Best known for the animated TV shows he’s created or co-created including Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, MacFarlane broke into the movie ranks this year with the hit comedy Ted, which has grossed $434 million worldwide, which he co-wrote and directed while also providing the voice of Ted, its wise-cracking teddy bear.

As they begin work on the Oscars, Zadan, Meron and MacFarlane talked with The Hollywood Reporter about what to expect.

The Hollywood Reporter: Seth hosted the season premiere of Saturday Night Live on Sept. 15. Were you already talking about his hosting the Oscars by then, or did that, in effect, trigger the idea?

Seth MacFarlane: There was so much going on at that time, it’s hard to say. It was somewhere around there, but it was obviously an evolving decision.

Craig Zadan: Basically when the Academy hired us to create the show, they said to create a show that’s very much what you want to do. In the beginning, we had talked about Seth, and we went through our process of thinking conceptually of what kind of show we wanted to do. We thought conceptually the most versatile person we could get would give the show the diversity that we wanted. Seth became the logical choice. We had no idea at that point whether he would be available or not. We went to him and found out he was indeed able to arrange his schedule so he could do it. We were overjoyed that he was interested, so we started discussions.

MacFarlane: That’s a nice way of saying I was sitting outside their office.

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THR: Seth, you opened SNL with a musical number. Can we assume you’ll be doing the same at the Oscars?

MacFarlane: I’ll be mostly tweeting. (Laughs.) Yeah, the Oscars would not be the Oscars without a musical component. Some of the best Oscar shows have had great musical production numbers. So I think there will be a musical element. What the balance is remains to be seen, but we will follow in that grand tradition.

THR: Since you’re also a writer, how much are you going to be involved in writing the show?

MacFarlane: I anticipate being very involved in the writing. In the past, with hosting duties for various events, I’m always very involved in writing my own material, so I would like to do the same here.

THR: How are you going to be able to fit in the time you’ll need to give to the Oscars with your commitments to your other shows?

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MacFarlane: My staff has always been just fantastic at adapting and adjusting the schedule to accommodate the things that come up. They certainly had to do so on Ted. My directorial duties required me to have limited involvement with the shows during that time. So they are used to this sort of thing; they are great at it. It’s never been a problem before when extracurricular activities have come up, so it will not be a problem now.

THR: You’re also a very active tweeter. In recent years, the Academy has gone back and forth between embracing social media and also keeping much of the show secret. Are you going to be tweeting inside info about the show as it develops?

MacFarlane: That’s a good question. It depends on what sort of time there is. On a certain day, I will tweet five times, and then I’ll go four days without tweeting at all. It really depends on what time allows. Twitter, priority-wise, has to come after the work is done. But I never go too long without updating people, so I’m sure I can fit it in.

THR: You’ve already posted a YouTube video in which you tell your father you’ll be hosting the Oscars. How did you get that up so fast?

MacFarlane: I called my father, and he was luckily on hiatus from his Fox show. So he came down to the house, and we put a crew together with [Academy president] Hawk [Koch] and Neil and Craig, and we put it together real fast and loose, down and dirty over the past few days.

THR: Seth’s got a big following among a young, male demographic. But is it going to be necessary to introduce him to the older and more female audience the Oscars traditionally attracts?

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Neil Meron: I think with what Seth did on Saturday Night Live and just what he does on TV, I think he’s pretty much in people’s consciousness. We think he’s there. This will be that moment when he just crosses over on all platforms.

THR: Did you get any resistance from ABC since Seth is so closely associated with his shows on Fox?

Zadan: I would say that was not the case because although Seth has shows on the Fox network, he is not a person who is on Fox. It was a non-issue. Everybody at the Academy and at ABC is really ecstatic about the choice and feels that it’s an unique, fresh idea. Somebody who is so versatile gives us the ability to create a show that will have so many elements to it and to do them really well.

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THR: So in addition to Seth, are we likely to see Ted or Stewie or any of his other characters on the Oscars?

MacFarlane: I think it’s too soon to say, but that sounds very expensive.