Seth MacFarlane (Photo: Danny Moloshok/Reuters)Some of you may be wondering why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) chose animated-show creator Seth MacFarlane to host its next live, on-air fête. And some of you may even be scratching your head wondering who the heck is Seth MacFarlane anyway.
Let me give you some backstory on your next Oscar host and the likely thinking behind why he was selected...
Originally from Connecticut, MacFarlane's passion for animation reportedly dates back to when he was two years old when he was drawing cartoon characters including Fred Flintstone and Woody Woodpecker. He stuck with that dream until he eventually got hired at Cartoon Network, working on several shows, which eventually led him to create a show on Fox.
But this isn't what you'll tell your parents when they ask who he is. You'll say he's the creator of the "Family Guy" animated comedy series -- which might start to ring some bells. You may want to add that his filmmaking debut was a huge success with "Ted" -- the live action comedy brought in $420 million worldwide over the summer, blowing away box office predictions and becoming the highest-grossing comedy of 2012 (so far).
Still, those aren't enough reasons for him to host the Academy Awards. If that were the case, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese -- not to mention Joss Whedon -- would have been considered too. You see, 38-year-old MacFarlane not only writes and directs, but he also acts and sings. The problem is most of his acting has been off-camera, voicing his characters on animated series "Family Guy," "The Cleveland Show" and "American Dad!." He was also the voice of that potty-mouth, talking teddy bear in "Ted." So his face isn't terribly familiar yet. MacFarlane's musical talents are completely legit as he was nominated for two Grammys last year -- but not many people associate him with that talent either.
While MacFarlane has the chops to get through such a major awards show -- the most major of awards shows -- he was, sort of, second choice, according to the Hollywood rumor mill. The Academy had been pursuing Jimmy Fallon as host -- an Oscar show that would have likely been produced by "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels. But in the end, ABC executives didn't want to be seen as promoting NBC late-night talent in direct rivalry with that other Jimmy... Jimmy Kimmel [via Vulture]. (ABC has been in agreement with AMPAS to host the Oscars through 2020.)
Ironically, MacFarlane said he was approached by AMPAS around the time he hosted "SNL" [via Deadline Hollywood].
Vulture also wondered aloud why Neil Patrick Harris wasn't selected. After all, he has starred in the long-running CBS hit show "How I Met Your Mother" -- which totally appeals to that younger demographic the Academy has been chasing lately. Also, Harris has a lengthy awards show host track record -- having hosted the Tony Awards several years in a row along with a smattering of other awards shows. But it's that very track record that may have been used against him in the end, as AMPAS is rumored to have preferred a surprise choice. And Harris may have been too obvious.
I think we all can agree that MacFarlane is a definite surprise choice.
In the end, most people watch the Oscars because of the movies and actors being nominated. But MacFarlane, ever popular with the young male demographic, has a decent chance of attracting them to a show they may not have otherwise watched. And that's probably the biggest reason he was chosen by the Academy.
Now that we know MacFarlane is hosting the Oscars, the "Family Guy" intro seems to take on new meaning:
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