Seth MacFarlane is hosting the 85th annual Academy Awards, which is news that probably made your little brother very excited. Other reactions to MacFarlane's new gig, however, have ranged from stunned to outraged. Wrote Richard Rushfield, "Seth McFarlane is who would be hosting the Oscars in the Hollywood sequences of a Paul Verhoeven/'Starship Troopers' sequel."
So, did the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences make a huge mistake by hiring MacFarlane? Ahead three reasons why the "Ted" director could be the best Oscar host since Hugh Jackman. (Oh, and can they hire Hugh Jackman for 2014? K, thanks.)
When movies like "The Artist," which actually grossed an impressive $133 million worldwide, win Best Picture, critics decry the Oscars as out of touch with what audiences want. (This is part of the reason why, after "The Dark Knight" failed to get nominated for Best Picture in 2008, the AMPAS extended the list of nominees to 10; now, anywhere between five and 10 films get nominated for Best Picture.) With MacFarlane, the Oscars have a host who was also the creative force (and star) of one of the year's biggest hits: "Ted" has earned $434 million worldwide, and with a December DVD release set, the film should bring Universal scores more by the time MacFarlane takes the Oscar stage on Feb. 24, 2013. MacFarlane isn't a movie star, but he is a brand: His fans show up, whether it's for "Ted" or "Family Guy" or "American Dad" or hosting the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live." (Less so for his standards album.) Logic dictates that they'll also tune in to watch the Oscars, even if they don't care about "Les Miserables" and "Life of Pi." If the goal of hiring MacFarlane is to extend the Oscars' reach beyond its core, then mission already accomplished.
2. Song & Dance
Funny thing about Seth MacFarlane that you might not know: He really likes to sing. (Oh, wait.) That aforementioned standards album, Music Is Better Than Words, is a real, honest-to-goodness big band record, featuring songs performed by MacFarlane. (Watch this super serious video about the making of Music is Better Than Words to get some more background; MacFarlane recorded the tunes to tape.) Between that and his "Saturday Night Live" monologue, MacFarlane has shown that he can actually sing. It's a trait that the best awards show hosts either possess (Jackman, Neil Patrick Harris, Jimmy Fallon) or attempt (Billy Crystal).
3. He's not Billy Crystal
No offense to Crystal, a nine-time host who bailed the AMPAS out last year when Eddie Murphy quit, but enough already with Billy Crystal. Jimmy Kimmel, Ellen Degeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, and even Neil Patrick Harris can take a breather, too. It's about time the awards-host inner circle expanded. That's what made Jackman such an inspired choice, and why Anne Hathaway and James Franco, despite being the worst, were at least good ideas on paper. MacFarlane is a risk, but he's also different. That alone makes him a worthy selection. Just as long as he keeps the "Family Guy" references to three.