Talk about raising interest in your Oscar hosting gig! Seth MacFarlane certainly did just that with his nominations announcement performance last week, didn’t he? In case anyone missed it, MacFarlane issued such gems as a Hitler joke tied in to the Austria-Germany collaboration, “Amour” and a comment that directors sit and watch other people make movies. And he earned a fierce collection of responses. For instance, an Entertainment Weekly headline asked “Seth MacFarlane, Oscar nomination presenter: Smug and condescending?” while Slate observed that he “managed to botch his Oscar-hosting gig in record time.”
Even as that was happening, ABC chieftain Paul Lee was explaining to press as the Television Critics Association conclave in Pasadena why he is “really bullish”about MacFarlane’s upcoming Oscar emcee stint.
“I am a huge Seth fan. I think what Seth brings — first of all, is a sense of joy,” he declared. MacFarlane, who is himself nominated for Best Song honors for“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from “Ted,”really “wants to be there,” he went on. One would hope!
“And he also has this fantastic combination of — he’s one of the funniest writers in the world, but if you watch ‘Family Guy,’ I mean, who would have expected, you know, ‘Family Guy’ would be the heart of show and dance and variety? He loves the show, and I think he’s going to bring a lot of that energy to it. He’s coming to the Oscars, you know, with a great sense of respect, but I think he’s going to bring us a really contemporary feel.
“Look, you don’t know. You don’t know until he comes out there, but I’m sensing he’s going to have a lot of fun out there, and I think, with the movies that are there, I think — I’m sensing that we are going to have a good Oscars. I may be proven wrong, but I’m feeling good about it and particularly good about him.”
That remains to be seen, but Oscar winners (“Chicago”) and musical producers extraordinaire Neil Meron and Craig Zadan are certainly a dream team, particularly in a year when “Les Miserables” is in the mix. As Lee acknowledged, “They love show and tell. They love variety. And so I think you are going to see a very entertaining Oscars. I think Seth is going to be right at the heart of that.”
ALSO: Lee talked about the future of “Dancing With the Stars” and the fact that the recent all-stars season was a ratings disappointment. “It turns out people want to see bad dancing as much as good dancing,” he said, adding that the show will be cast in its regular way next time around. He does still expect to air “DWTS” twice a year. It’s still a big, broad crowd pleaser, he noted. “Sixteen million viewers. That’s still a lot of viewers.” He believes that with the right casting, younger viewers can be enticed back to the show. Seth MacFarlane, maybe?
SORRY TO SAY GOODBYE: The death of beloved California TV personality Huell Howser at age 67 last week has truly saddened a lot of folks around these parts, who’ll miss the perpetual unbridled enthusiasm he brought to his California travelogue shows. Among them, no doubt: Barbra Streisand and James Brolin. Brolin admitted to us a few years ago that he and his wife just loved to settle down and watch Huell doing his thing, taking viewers on excursions from Death Valley to Eureka, meeting assorted colorful sorts along the way. And Brolin had developed a spot-on perfect impression of the Tennessee-born Huell, which he demonstrated for us: “You have a tree here, and another tree there! Why, you’ve almost got a forest!!” Howser is being memorialized today (1/15) at L.A.’s Griffith Park Observatory.