NEW YORK — He ruffled feathers. He maybe even turned some viewers off.
But it's likely no one turned off Seth MacFarlane.
Best-known until recently as the bad-boy creator and character voice behind "Family Guy" and last summer's hit film "Ted," MacFarlane seized the camera Sunday as host of ABC's Oscarcast and proved to its vast audience that he's a ridiculously versatile entertainer, a guy who can be as charming as he is famously irreverent, even polarizing.
Here's a guy who could toss off a joke Bob Hope might have delivered decades ago ("It's Sunday. Everybody's dressed up. This is like church – only with more people praying"), then carry off a deliberate groaner like his wisecrack that, while, an actor like Daniel Day-Lewis really captured Abraham Lincoln in his Oscar-winning performance, "I would argue that the actor who really got inside Abraham Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth."
Viewers could have gotten fair warning of what to expect from MacFarlane last fall when he hosted "Saturday Night Live" with skill.
But this Oscars hosting gig was the Main Event, and he earned a large measure of credit for keeping the show in satisfying equilibrium.
This was an elegant affair, including a surprise appearance by first lady Michelle Obama, live from the White House, who announced the best picture.
The lovely stage setting glowed and shimmered. And it was put to good use in a show-stopping production number saluting movie musicals including "Chicago," "Dreamgirls" and "Les Miserables," performed by stars from those films.
On a program that honored the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films, Adele wailed the theme song from the newest, "Skyfall." Far juicier, Shirley Bassey belted out the theme from "Goldfinger" about as forcefully as she did in 1964.
And accompanying the In Memoriam tribute, in a year that saw the passing of composer-songwriter Marvin Hamlisch, Barbra Streisand made a rare television appearance to sing "The Way We Were" in his honor.
(If any of the studio-perfect performances raised suspicions of lip-syncing, the academy declared all the singing was done live.)
Speaking of music, the orchestra got surprisingly aggressive forcing off winners in mid-acceptance, often with the sinister theme from "Jaws," of all things.
But silver-tressed Claudio Miranda, accepting the best cinematography Oscar for "Life of Pi," didn't need the hook. Beginning with "Aw, gee, wow," he seemed to be channeling Diane Keaton in "Annie Hall" as he gratefully stumbled through his thank-yous with a series of gasps, sentence fragments, and finally his own self-imposed wrap-up, "Oh, my God, I can't even speak." In his brief appearance, he became the patron saint of any viewer who was ever forced to speak in public from the heart – and crumbled.
Few presenters knocked it out of the park in their fleeting turns, but none had viewers' teeth grinding.
Perhaps inevitably, Mark Wahlberg was reunited with his "Ted" co-star, a digitally rendered Teddy bear voiced by MacFarlane. Ted, at his politically incorrect best, wondered aloud where the post-Oscars orgy would be ("Jack Nicholson's house," Wahlberg finally replied) and professed that he was Jewish to ensure he would "work in this town."
Yes, MacFarlane had his moments of dubious taste. What did anybody expect who'd ever spent a moment with "Family Guy"?
But did he really cross the line when he described "Django Unchained" as "the story of a man fighting to get back his woman who's been subjected to unthinkable violence – or, as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie"?
Especially on a night where everyone else seemed to be on their best behavior, MacFarlane's strategic misbehavior furnished welcome relief.
In interviews beforehand, he had spoken of his hope to strike a balance between respect for Hollywood and some necessary sass. Mission accomplished.
Leading-man handsome with a gleaming smile, he began the broadcast without a net and looking totally relaxed: Alone on the stage, he delivered a series of one-liners, most of which scored. (The Oscarcast was being watched by "close to a billion people worldwide," he intoned, "which is why Jodie Foster will be up here in a bit to ask for her privacy.")
Then he opened the door to his reputation for raunch with the appearance on a video screen of William Shatner as "Star Trek's" Captain Kirk, who had arrived from the future to scold MacFarland in advance for the hosting performance he was just starting.
"The show's a disaster," declared Shatner.
As evidence, he pointed to an "incredibly offensive song that upsets a lot of actresses in the audience."
With that, a pre-taped production number featured MacFarlane singing "We Saw Your Boobs," saluting a roster of actresses who have bared themselves in their films.
But then, in an effort to atone, MacFarlane sang a classy rendition of "The Way You Look Tonight" accompanied by Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum in dance.
Not good enough, said Shatner, who then revealed a video clip where MacFarlane, costumed in a Flying Nun habit, hit on Oscar nominee Sally Field in the green room.
Back and forth went the routine: Bad Seth and Good Seth. Both were very funny, stewarding a broadcast that never went askew.
Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier
Daniel Day-Lewis & Meryl Streep
First lady Michelle Obama
Kristin Chenoweth & Seth MacFarlane
Charlize Theron & actor Dustin Hoffman
Paul Epworth & Adele
Richard Gere, actresses Renee Zellweger, Queen Latifah & Catherine Zeta-Jones
Tom Hooper, Anne Hathaway
Daniel Radcliffe & Kristen Stewart
Hugh Jackman & Anne Hathaway
Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks & Eddie Redmayne
The Cast of Les Miserables
Jennifer Garner & Jessica Chastain
Ben Affleck & Malik Bendjelloul
Julie Dartnell & Lisa Westcott
Channing Tatum & Jennifer Aniston
Jamie Foxx & Kerry Washington
Claudio Miranda, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner & Samuel L. Jackson
Paul Rudd & Melissa McCarthy
From backstage at the Oscars:
When did you feel a tipping point in your favor for this film?
Clooney: Michelle Obama.
Ben: When they gave us the trophies I was confident that we would win. I don’t get too much into the Oscar-ology and the pontificating. It doesn’t help me to read up on that stuff.
Backstage at the Oscars with Daniel Day-Lewis:
Was it uncomfortable wearing the beard?
What do you mean? No it's just a beard. Do you wear your hair? It was my very own beard.
From HuffPost Los Angeles correspondent Sasha Bronner:
"A bad word. That starts with F."
Here's Awards Daily blogger Sasha Stone just after "Argo" won Best Picture.
|@ AwardsDaily : See, I told you Argo was Crash incarnate. Won the same amount of awards even.|
Have you ever seen a movie where you walk out saying, “That was just a great f--king movie”? That’s Ben Affleck’s Argo. Inexplicably, a film that draws its strength from humor and suspense, winds up being more moving the second time through. Perhaps because once you have been through the suspense part of it you get to know the characters better and therefore care about their outcomes more.
|@ LouLumenick : Affleck: Oscar winner to laughingstock to Oscar winner. You can't make these things up.|
|@ m1keh0gan : Tommy Lee Jones told me Seth MacFarlane was "hilarious." His favorite part? "I Saw Your Boobs." #notkidding|
“It’s a strange thing, because three years ago, before we decided to do a straight swap, I had actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher, um...” he joked. “And Meryl was, was Steven’s first choice for ‘Lincoln.’ And I’d like to see that version. And Steven didn’t have to persuade me to play Lincoln, but I had to persuade him that, perhaps, if I was going to do it, that Lincoln shouldn’t be a musical.”
More on Daniel Day-Lewis' Oscar speech here.
The 85th annual Oscars gave audiences plenty to talk about -- from host Seth MacFarlane's "rejected"-but-still-definitely-included "We Saw Your Boobs" number to William Shatner's comment that the Academy should have asked Amy Poehler and Tina Fey to host. (Are they really hosting next year? Don't play with our emotions that way.)
More here from HuffPost Women.
Need to make sense of the Oscars? We've got you covered. From the WHOA to the EEK to the OH NO!, we've rounded up the night's brightest highlights. Because nobody should be the odd man out at the water cooler.
Seth MacFarlane opened the night with a Tommy Lee Jones joke (remember Mr Grumpy Cat?). "The quest to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh starts now," quipped the host. So ...
Look at Oscar night in GIFs by clicking here.
The 85th annual Academy Awards took a moment Sunday evening to honor a number of late Hollywood greats. The memoriam nodded to an extraordinary group, including Nora Ephron and Richard Zanuck. However, one actor was noticeably absent from the list.
Andy Griffith wasn't mentioned in the Oscars' In Memoriam segment. More here.
|@ brooksbarnesNYT : Reporter to Jennifer Lawrence, "Are you worried about peaking too soon?" She makes a face and pauses. "Well, now I am!"|
From HuffPost Women:
We learned a few things: Seth MacFarlane likes boobs. Seth MacFarlane thinks eating disorders are funny. And Seth MacFarlane's one-liners would make the worst pick-up lines ever.
Pretty great. David Rothschild, who spearheaded our Oscars Prediction Dashboard weighs in:
This is a spectacular result … The Oscars are always billed as “unpredictable” and that is especially true down the line for the more obscure categories … 19 out of 24 correct is a testament to scientific predictions
More on the Oscars tie that occurred in the Best Sound Editing category:
Although it is rare, Oscars ties have happened before.
In 1932, Frederic March won the Best Actor award for "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and tied with Wallace Beery for "The Champ" because Beery only beat him by one single vote, Slate notes. The rules allowed for a one vote difference to be called a tie back then, while today it must be the exact same.
More on Michelle Obama's Oscar appearance:
"[These films] taught us that love can beat all odds," Obama said. "They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage within ourselves."
The 2013 Oscars are over. "Life of PI" led with four wins, including Best Director for Ang Lee. "Argo" and "Les Miserables" had three wins. "Django Unchained" and "Lincoln" earned two.
|@ kateyrich : Poor Bradley Cooper, knowing they pre-wrote a musical number about how he's a loser.|
Seth MacFarlane and Kristen Chenoweth sing a song about the losers at the Oscars. Surely this will go over well in the room.
"Argo," Ang Lee, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Christoph Waltz and Anne Hathaway were 2013 Oscar winners. Here's the full list.
Affleck, who was snubbed for Best Director, gives a long but thoughtful acceptance speech. More on the historic "Argo" Oscar win here:
The 2013 Academy Award for Best Picture was awarded to Hollywood's favorite film: "Argo." Oscar looked good in Ben Affleck's hand, especially as the star was notably snubbed in the Best Directing category.
He thanks Ben Affleck, who directed a "helluva film." He then introduces Affleck.
"Thank you very, very much." Affleck acknowledges Steven Spielberg and the other films.
Michelle Obama announces "Argo" as Best Picture.
Jack knows better than to mess with Michelle Obama.