MacFarlane doesn't mince words

00:19, Feb 26 2013
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Host Seth MacFarlane opens the Oscars.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Host Seth MacFarlane opens the Oscars, with a review from the future framing him.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Host Seth MacFarlane is informed of the outcome of the Oscars by a future William Shatner.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, host Seth MacFarlane and actor Daniel Radcliffe dance onstage.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actor Paul Rudd and actress Melissa McCarthy present the awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Cinematographer Claudio Miranda accepts the Best Cinematography award for Life of Pi.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
The cast of The Avengers, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson present the award for Best Cinematography.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Singer Shirley Bassey performs.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actor Channing Tatum and actress Jennifer Aniston onstage.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Host Seth MacFarlane cracks a joke.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actresses Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain present an award onstage.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actor/director Ben Affleck presents an award onstage.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Catherine Zeta-Jones performs.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson performs.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Director Michael Haneke accepts the Best Foreign Language Film award for Amour.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Mark Wahlberg presents the award for Best Sound Editing.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actress Anne Hathaway accepts the Best Supporting Actress award for Les Miserables.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actress Sandra Bullock has some trouble with an envelope.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actor Christopher Plummer onstage.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Singer/actress Barbra Streisand performs.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
George Clooney presents onstage.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Singer Adele Adkins accepts the Best Original Song award for Skyfall from Skyfall.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Director Ang Lee accepts the Best Director award for Life of Pi.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Writer/director Quentin Tarantino accepts the Best Writing - Original Screenplay award for Django Unchained.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actress Jennifer Lawrence trips as she goes to accept her award for Best Actress for her work in Silver Linings Playbook.
Oscars 2013 - Sally Field
Actor Daniel Day-Lewis accepts the Best Actor award for Lincoln.
Oscars Argo
Director and producer Ben Affleck accepts the Oscar for best picture for Argo

Rookie Oscar host Seth MacFarlane casually slung a string of zingers at some of Hollywood's biggest names, including a musical tribute to female frontal nudity in the movies, as he launched the Academy Awards show on a decisively edgy note.

First-time Oscar producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan recruited MacFarlane in a bid to inject a greater sense of the unexpected, and hopefully bigger television ratings, a year after veteran host Billy Crystal performed his ninth stint at the helm of the live broadcast.
 
And MacFarlane fully embraced his role as provocateur-in-chief.

In an opening monologue and package of song-and-dance numbers obviously calculated to live up to, and even lampoon, his own reputation for pushing the boundaries of taste, MacFarlane put his biting, sardonic brand of humour front and centre.

He started off joking that Best Picture front-runner and eventual winner, Argo, about a real-life clandestine CIA operation to rescue American hostages from Iran, was "so top secret that the film's director is unknown to the Academy."

The barb was a not-so-subtle jab at members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for failing to nominate Ben Affleck as best director for the critically acclaimed film.

"They know they screwed up," MacFarlane added, as the camera panned to a shot of Affleck, looking somewhat uncomfortable in his seat. "Ben, it's not your fault."

The edgy quotient quickly escalated as MacFarlane described another best-film candidate, Django Unchained, as the slavery-era "story of a man fighting to get back his woman who has been subjected to unthinkable violence - or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie."

The punch line reference to the physical abuse involved in the relationship between the two R&B singers - Brown pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in 2009 - drew an audible groan from the star-studded Dolby Theatre audience.

"Oh, no, that's what we were afraid he would do," MacFarlane dead-panned.

Lustier groans came later in the evening when MacFarlane, talking about the portrait of the 16th president of the United States in the Oscar-nominated film Lincoln, quipped that "the actor who really got into Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth."

"One-hundred and fifty years (since Lincoln's assassination) and it's still too soon, huh?", MacFarlane laughed, seemingly taken aback at the response.

SELF-LAMPOONING

MacFarlane's performance should not have come as too big a surprise. The comedian, actor and singer made his mark as creator of the animated TV series, Family Guy, a show known for its ribald satire, much of it aimed at Hollywood conventions.

And MacFarlane, 39, wasted no time in sending up his own risqué persona, in a comedy bit with actor William Shatner, who joined the host on stage via a video screen in the character of Captain Kirk from the sci-fi TV and film series Star Trek.

In his fictional drop-in visit from the future, Shatner warns MacFarlane he is "destroying the Academy Awards" with jokes that are "tasteless and inappropriate."

But the interlude segued into a song-and-dance number by MacFarlane showcasing his vocal chops to a tune called "We Saw Your Boobs," in which he rhapsodically ticked off the names of various A-list Hollywood actresses who have bared their breasts in films over the years.

Admonished by Shatner to sing songs that celebrate the movies rather than mock them, MacFarlane proceeded to deliver a more respectful rendering of the showbiz standard, The Way You Look Tonight, joined on stage in elegant dance by actress Charlize Theron (Snow White and the Huntsman) and actor Channing Tatum (Magic Mike).

In the way that many cartoons, including MacFarlane's own Family Guy series, operate on different levels for kids and their parents, this year's Oscar telecast seemed especially designed to play to more than one TV audience.

Early reviews of MacFarlane's maiden performance were mixed. The Washington Post called it "a fairly middle-of-the-road job as host," while USA Today said it appeared to be an "audition for his own variety show."

The Los Angeles Times was more upbeat, saying he "alternated between making hamburgers out of Hollywood's sacred cows and showing fealty to good old-fashioned showbiz spectacle."

MacFarlane's more provocative turns were offset by some of the more traditional pomp typical of Hollywood's biggest night, including a 50th-anniversary montage salute to James Bond films, capped by veteran singer Shirley Bassey, now 76, reprising her title song from the 1964 film Goldfinger.

In another highlight of the evening, songstress, actress and director Barbara Streisand, 70, took the stage to perform her signature hit The Way We Were, from her 1973 film of the same name, in a tribute to the song's Oscar-winning composer, Marvin Hamlisch, who died last year.

In addition to hosting, MacFarlane was a best-song nominee himself this year for writing the lyrics to the song Everybody Needs a Best Friend from his R-rated comedy hit film Ted, about a pot-smoking, foul-mouthed teddy bear.

The award went to Skyfall, the title song from the latest Bond film, performed at the Oscars by British vocalist Adele.

What did you think of Seth MacFarlane's performance?

Advertisement

Stuff