Seth MacFarlane bringing a surprise factor as Oscar host

Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:32pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar night traditionally comes packed with shocks and upsets for the winners, but on Sunday the biggest surprise could be the host - provocative comedian, actor and singer Seth MacFarlane.

MacFarlane, 39, the creator of the edgy animated TV series "Family Guy," "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show," has awards watchers and audiences intrigued as to what he has up his sleeve for the movie industry's biggest night.

"We love the expectation of the newness of Seth and we love the fact that people don't quite know what they're going to get with him as a host. We think it adds to the speculation and the interest in the show," said Neil Meron, who is co-producing the Academy Awards telecast for the first time with Craig Zadan.

Zadan and Meron, who produced the film version of musical "Chicago" as well as Broadway shows, recruited MacFarlane last year, saying his skills "blend perfectly with our ideas for making the show entertaining and fresh."

After 2011's much-panned "youth Oscars" with hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway, and 2012's return to tradition with nine-time master of ceremonies Billy Crystal, Sunday's three-hour Academy Awards show will be all about the unexpected.

MacFarlane has often come under fire from U.S. watchdog groups for making crude jokes. The Parents Television Council regularly ranks "Family Guy" among their "worst prime-time shows for family viewing" on the grounds that it may include gratuitous sex or obscene language.

But while the star-studded audience at Sunday's ceremony may be squirming in their seats in anticipation of MacFarlane's barbs, Meron and Zadan say they are not worried.

"We're not nervous because everything he writes, he runs by us," Zadan told Reuters.   Continued...

Seth MacFarlane arrives at the HBO after party after the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas