UPDATE: Seth MacFarlane Gets Oscar Call; Plus Why Academy Asked Back Zadan And Meron

By | Monday April 22, 2013 @ 12:12pm PDT
Pete Hammond

UPDATE, 12:12 PM: After an initial denial, Deadline can now confirm that Seth MacFarlane did indeed get a call about returning as host of next year’s 86th Annual Academy Awards but has not given an answer yet. The big problem for MacFarlane, we are told by highly reliable sources, is his already full plate with a new Western comedy, A Million Ways To Die In The West, going into production soon as well as initial work on Universal’s sequel to Ted, which has amassed a worldwide gross of over half a billion dollars and is obviously a priority for the studio.

Despite saying after this year’s Oscars that he wouldn’t consider coming back, MacFarlane is mulling the offer but at this point isn’t sure he has the time to do it. For the 85th Oscar show, he was closely involved for four months, and that is a big-time commitment. The Academy, returning producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and MacFarlane’s PR reps aren’t commenting so far, and neither is Academy president Hawk Koch.

MacFarlane’s comic Western film is being produced by the Ted team of Media Rights Capital and producers Scott Stuber and Jason Clark. MacFarlane, who directs, co-writes with Ted and Family Guy colleagues Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, also stars as a bumbling sheep farmer in the comedy said to be in the vein of Blazing Saddles. Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Giovanni Ribisi co-star.

PREVIOUSLY, SATURDAY PM: Craig Zadan and Neil Meron aren’t talking yet (an Academy spokesperson said they are too busy at the moment producing their History Channel production of Bonnie And Clyde). But after the surprise announcement this week that they would be returning to produce the 2014 Oscar show, gossip blogs like HuffPo and others started spreading the obvious rumor that their handpicked — and controversial — 2013 Oscar host Seth MacFarlane already has been asked to do the gig again next year. Not true at all, Deadline has learned from MacFarlane’s reps. And shortly after the 85th Oscar show was over MacFarlane himself swore off any ambition to do the show again next year – or ever (of course never say ever). So with the false rumors out of the way let’s discuss what is true about the Academy’s Zadan/Meron play this week.

Even as much of the industry was in Las Vegas at CinemaCon for the past few days (including myself) seeing snippets of films still in production that could possibly turn up as Oscar contenders, the normally rigid Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences surprised us all by announcing 2013 show producers Zadan and Meron would be returning to produce the 2014 show as well, 11 months from now. Normally this is the first duty of an Academy President to choose after elections are held in August, and since current one-term President Hawk Koch will not be that person, it was quite unexpected to see him delivering this news in April, just a month and a half after the last show and before a new President would have any say in the matter, something Nikki specifically expressed shock at in her story on Tuesday.

After talking to numerous Academy insiders and board members this week who were directly involved in the process that led to this early bird choice, the word that comes up over and over is “continuity”. Other awards shows such as the Tonys, Grammys and even Emmys tend to go back to the same producers year after year, but as one former Academy President told me the Oscar show producing chores have lately been done “trial by fire”. Since the late Gil Cates produced his 14th and final Oscarcast in 2008, there has been a new team of producers every single year. The Board, which I am told was very much behind this decision, agreed that “continuity”, the kind they had in the Cates era, is important. That’s another reason the Academy has already announced show dates for both 2014 and even 2015 quelling any speculation the Oscars would move any earlier than the last Sunday in February (due to the Winter Olympics the 2014 show will be a week later on March 2).
Read More »

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Seth MacFarlane Rips Edited ‘Family Guy’ Clip That Depicts Boston Marathon Bombings; Original Episode Pulled

By | Tuesday April 16, 2013 @ 4:37pm PDT

Fox has pulled the recent episode from its Fox.com and Hulu that depicted mass deaths at the Boston Marathon, and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is peeved that an edited clip from the episode is circulating that … Read More »

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Oscars: What Is The Academy’s Unprecedented Membership Meeting Really All About?

Pete Hammond

Speculation has been swirling this Easter holiday weekend in the media and among Academy types just exactly what the Save The Date for the “special event”  the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just sent out to their members (in an email from … Read More »

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Seth Green Set As Lead In Seth MacFarlane Fox Pilot ‘Dads’

By | Monday March 25, 2013 @ 1:00pm PDT

Annie AwardsSeth Green, who has voiced Chris Griffin in all but one episode of Seth MacFarlane’s animated series Family Guy, is teaming with MacFarlane again. He’s now been set as the other lead in Dads, Fox‘s … Read More »

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Giovanni Ribisi Saddles Up For Seth MacFarlane Comedy

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Add Giovanni Ribisi to A Million Ways To Die In The West, the next film to star and be directed by Seth MacFarlane. Ribisi reteams with MacFarlane, who is once again teamed in this venture with Media Rights Capital, which finally rode in a big winner when it backed MacFarlane’s last film, Ted, the foul mouthed stuffed bear comedy that has now grossed over $543 million worldwide. Universal is expected to become the distributor of the Western, after releasing Ted. MacFarlane wrote the script with Ted and Family Guy cohorts Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, and Scott Stuber and Jason Clark are producing. They were producers on Ted with MacFarlane and John Jacobs. Read More »

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Are Winter Olympic Games Forcing 2014 Oscars Into March?

Pete Hammond

Are the Oscars moving even later into March next year? All signs say ‘yes’ and the Academy would be wise to announce this sooner than later.

Despite annual (and always wrong) media speculation (including a recent column in a well-knownOscars 2013 show biz trade) that the Academy Awards are planning to move a month earlier into January insiders have repeatedly told me the Academy’s Board has no taste for that, and as at least one former top officer in the organization told me over the weekend, contractually they can’t  do it.

Though they haven’t yet announced any dates for the next Oscar race, the schedule of the Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia February 7 through the 23rd puts a big crimp in any plans to keep the Oscars even on in its current berth on the last Sunday of February where it would run smack into the Closing Night ceremonies. In the past when this has come up the Academy has always moved the Oscar show to the first Sunday in March which would be on the 2nd next year. Quite frankly there is nowhere else for the show to go. Do the math.

With the Super Bowl already claiming Sunday February 2nd and the Olympics taking the remaining three Sundays, the earliest date available would be January 26th and every source with whom I have spoken tells me that is the date CBS is claiming for the Grammys next year (moving two weeks earlier than their February 10, 2013 date). Also getting the message are the major show biz Guilds which have all already staked out their 2014 dates and sprayed the territory. Read More »

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OSCARS: Debate Still Rages About Seth MacFarlane – Is There A Double Standard At Play?

By | Thursday February 28, 2013 @ 4:06pm PST
Pete Hammond

The debate rages on about this year’s Oscars. Not about the movies that won or lost, but the host. Poor Seth MacFarlane just can’t seem to catch a break. If you believe what you read he is either a misogynist, a gay basher, an anti-Semite hiding behind a stuffed teddy bear, or someone who is just downright disrespectful to Abraham Lincoln. And you thought hosting the Oscars was going to be all fun and glamour?

Somewhere along the way we seem to be losing our sense of humor. It’s just an awards show, folks.  Even if you don’t think he was funny — and apparently many don’t — it’s no reason to completely eviscerate the guy. For fronting a show that was alternately class (Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, musical numbers) and crass, he has been getting bashed from the right and the left for his Oscar-night performance where his routines, among  many other charges, have been blasted as sexist (particularly for the musical number, “We Saw Your Boobs” which was meant to be a tasteless parody of a bad Oscar song number). For MacFarlane, who is known for edgy humor, this was relatively mild material. Yet critics like Amy Davidson in the New Yorker called it  his “ugly, sexist, racist Oscars” and his performance, “a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane”. Ouch. The Anti-Defamation League joined the chorus earlier this week protesting the appearance of MacFarlane’s Ted and what they said was anti-Semitic humor. Yesterday a couple of California female legislators even filed a formal protest with the Academy over what they saw as offensive treatment of women.

It’s ironic that several women are now coming to MacFarlane’s defense, including Victoria A. Brownworth today at the Advocate.com, who said his humor was pointing out Hollywood hypocrisy against women and in fact gave his performance a ringing endorsement. The Academy itself got pro-active in sending press members positive statements about MacFarlane’s Oscar gig, offering a strong defense. All of this brings up the point that perhaps a “double standard” was at work here when compared to the media’s effusive praise for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the two female hosts of this year’s rival show the Golden Globes — even though some of their comedy bits dealt with some of the same subject matter as MacFarlane’s including women’s difficulties with issues of weight. So is there a real double standard at work? Fey and Poehler gets raves, MacFarlane gets vilified. Read More »

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California Lawmakers Join Chorus Of Oscarcast Complaints

By | Wednesday February 27, 2013 @ 7:10pm PST

The Academy leadership may have felt pretty good about the Oscars’ boost in ratings over the 2012 and 2011 ceremonies, but plenty of other folks weren’t too happy with Seth MacFarlane’s hosting. California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, both Democrats who lead the Legislature’s women’s caucus, have written Academy President Hawk Koch and requested that the organization disavow MacFarlane’s behavior. “On Oscar night, when Hollywood seeks to honor its best, Seth MacFarlane’s monologue reduced our finest female actresses to caricatures and stereotypes, degrading women as a whole and the filmmaking industry itself,” the lawmakers wrote. “From topical jabs about domestic violence to singing about ‘boobs’ during a film’s rape scene, Seth MacFarlane crossed the line from humor to misogyny.” Author and award-winning creator of HBO’s Girls Lena Dunham wasn’t pleased either. In tweets she suggested that critics who claim Anne Hathaway hurt the feminist “cause” should save their “bad attitudes for the ones who aren’t advancing the cause” who “aren’t always, or mostly, women. Case in point: I saw your boobs“.

Related: Nikki Finke’s 2013 Oscars Live Snark

MacFarlane wasn’t the only source of complaints. The always closely watched “In Memorium” homage to people who have died over the past always leaves people out. Read More »

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Seth MacFarlane On Hosting The Oscars Again: ‘No Way’

By | Tuesday February 26, 2013 @ 12:43pm PST

The reviews were a bit less than mixed for Seth MacFarlane‘s turn as Oscar host Sunday, with our own Nikki Finke saying during her live-snark “He really is The Worst Oscar Host Ever”. If his answer to … Read More »

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UPDATE: Seth MacFarlane-Hosted Oscars Watched By 40.3M, Up From 2012

By | Monday February 25, 2013 @ 1:55pm PST

UPDATE, 1:55 PM: The 85th Oscars had 40.3 million viewers last night in Live+Same Day ratings. Sunday’s Seth MacFarlane-hosted ceremony on ABC slipped ahead of the 39.3 million that watched last year’s Read More »

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OSCARS: Analysis By Pete Hammond

By | Monday February 25, 2013 @ 3:04am PST
Pete Hammond

Oscars 2013 AnalysisEven as tonight’s Governor’s Ball was winding down, Ben Affleck was still off in a corner of the room celebrating his Argo‘s most unlikely Best Picture victory in becoming only the second film in 80 years to win the top prize without even a nomination for its director. Affleck’s roller coaster ride has been remarkable this season and as he told me earlier this weekend, and tonight after the Best Pic triumph, it has been filled with hills and valleys, but it all came together at the Dolby Theatre when First Lady Michelle Obama (from the White House) opened the envelope and announced his film as the winner.

Related: Nikki Finke’s Oscar Live-Snark

When he was left off the list of Directing nominees on January 10th he said he was really depressed, but that same night he won the Critics Choice Movie Award as Director and Best Picture, then the Golden Globe three days later, then the PGA, SAG, DGA, WGA and BAFTA honors to name a few. Suddenly Argo was the one to beat and it never wavered. Affleck’s emotional acceptance was heartfelt and perfectly described the personal journey of this actor turned first-rate director. And his acknowledgement of Steven Spielberg from the stage was a nice touch. He won, with Matt Damon, for Best Original Screenplay in 1997 for Good Will Hunting, but this was different as Affleck told me and he was going to savor this moment as long as he could before moving on into the night. It was the same for Argo’s winning screenwriter Chris Terrio who also was hanging late at the Govs Ball even though he had to catch a flight back to his New York home where he is currently writing a new script based on the Greengrass story. As he was just exiting the Ball at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom, he told me someone gave him advice that he should just try to enjoy this moment first. He seemed to have a hard time soaking it in, but he was going to give it at least this one night before getting back to work.

Argo, after vitually a clean sweep of awards season since the directing snub (which in retrospect could not have hurt), won a respectable three Oscars (also for Editing and Adapted Screenplay), tying Les Misérables for that number of Oscars. But the big winner of the night (if you can call it that) was 20th’s risky box office success Life Of Pi which nabbed four statuettes including a biggie, Best Director for Ang Lee. Had Affleck been nominated, he likely would have won since Best Picture and Director usually go hand in hand, but for whatever reason in a year with an embarrassment of riches it somehow seems totally appropiate that there was a split and Lee was given this award. If anything, Life Of Pi was a directorial achievement like no other and this Oscar was acknowledgement of that. In fact, right after Affleck was snubbed, I predicted Lee would take it, and in the last couple of weeks it was apparent a tide was building for him among Academy voters. It became one of the easiest calls of the night despite the fact that many pundits were calling it for Lincoln‘s Steven Spielberg. At the Govs Ball, Lee, who has won two previous Oscars (for Best Foreign Language Film for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Director for Brokeback Mountain), told me this one means as much or probably more because of the extreme challenges Pi provided. He was clearly thrilled with it and I told him he becomes the first director since George Stevens in the 50s with A Place In The Sun (1951) and Giant (1956) to win two Best Director Oscars for two films that did not win Best Picture, a rare occurence. Read More »

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OSCARS: Seth MacFarlane’s Comedy Bits – Videos

By | Monday February 25, 2013 @ 12:19am PST

Seth MacFarlane sang, danced, and joked his way through the Oscars on Sunday night in his hosting debut with the help of Channing Tatum, Charlize Theron, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Radcliffe, and William Shatner. The show’s 15-minute opening saw everything from a futuristic visit from Captain James T. Kirk (Shatner) to a song naming A-list actresses who’ve bared it all onscreen. (The Oscars telecast also plugged MacFarlane’s Best Song nominee Ted with a staged bit starring Mark Wahlberg and his furry co-star.) And just when the nearly four-hour telecast was all over, MacFarlane and Kristin Chenowith tacked on one last musical ode dedicated to the night’s losers. Watch all the comedic Oscar clips here:

William Shatner interrupts MacFarlane’s opening monologue from the future:

MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” opening song:

Read More »

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OSCARS: How ‘Ted’ Made It To The Show

By | Sunday February 24, 2013 @ 9:04pm PST

Mark Wahlberg and Ted’s appearance on this year’s Oscars presenting the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing awards may have only lasted nine minutes, but it was months in the making, I’ve learned. The decision to have … Read More »

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Longest Oscars In Hollywood History? Yawnfest Instead Of Usual Snorefest?

Join Nikki Finke at 5:30 PM PT for her annual Oscar Live-Snarking!

EXCLUSIVE: What is maybe the most anticipated Academy Awards in recent memory is also mutating into what could be one of the longest Oscars in Hollywood history. I can feel a yawnfest coming on already. Sources tells me that last week the show clocked in at 3 hours and 40 minutes. Then it was shortened. But now the telecast doesn’t even commence presenting the Best Picture Oscar until after 3 hours and 23 minutes. And that’s only if everything goes according to schedule – which it never does. The telecast’s opening number lasts a full 15 minutes in what is the prelude to the most music-filled Academy Awards ever. So this could easily become an Oscar ceremony lasting 4-plus hours. (The longest on record is 4 hours, 23 minutes in 2002.) That’s not good news for longtime Academy Awards broadcaster ABC whose research demonstrates that, after 11 PM East Coast Time, the network loses 100,000 people per minute. That could hurt ratings for Sunday’s show which contains more suspense than in recent years. At around $1.7 million to $1.8 million for a 30-second spot, the Disney-owned ABC has sold out its ad inventory at prices higher than the network has charged since 2008 when the economy started to tank.

I’m usually in the habit of proclaiming doom and gloom every time these marquee Hollywood awards celebrate the movie season. But not this time around. Because I don’t anticipate a snorefest. Rarely have so many of the 24 categories including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Screenplays, and more been up for grabs. Is it Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Chastain or the 85-year-old French star Emmanuelle Riva of Amour? Is it Steven Spielberg or Ang Lee or dark horse David O Russell? Is it Argo or Lincoln or shocker Silver Linings Playbook? Nobody knows for sure. Read More »

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OSCARS: Kristin Chenoweth, Seth Macfarlane Set For Post-Best-Pic-Award Musical Finale

By | Wednesday February 20, 2013 @ 6:13pm PST

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today that Kristin Chenoweth and Seth MacFarlane will participate in a special show closing musical performance.

“After the Best Picture award has been given, Seth and Kristin will perform a special number and we think it will be a ‘can’t miss’ moment,” said producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

Read More »

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Oscar Host Seth MacFarlane Has The Hot Movie Package; Auction On Western Takes Place In March With Universal In Hot Pursuit

By | Tuesday February 19, 2013 @ 5:35pm PST
Mike Fleming

Seth MacFarlaneEXCLUSIVE: When he completes Sunday’s Oscar hosting stint, Seth MacFarlane will get down to business about where to place his next film, one that is shaping up to be the hot movie project in town. I’m hearing that Universal Pictures has the inside track to acquire A Million Ways To Die In The West, the live action comedy he’ll begin shooting this spring that is a kindred spirit to Blazing Saddles. Several studios are chasing the project, which so far stars MacFarlane, Amanda Seyfried and Charlize Theron.

MacFarlane is once again teamed in this venture with Media Rights Capital, which finally rode in a big winner when it backed MacFarlane’s last film, Ted, the foul mouthed stuffed bear comedy that has now grossed over $536 million worldwide and is out-grossing Skyfall in Japan. MacFarlane wrote the script with Ted and Family Guy cohorts Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, and Scott Stuber and Jason Clark are producing. They were producers on Ted with MacFarlane and John Jacobs. You can see he is a loyal guy, and so why wouldn’t he go back to Universal when the result was so good last time around. Read More »

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OSCARS: Show’s Producers Want To Uphold Tradition But Also Modernize

By | Friday February 15, 2013 @ 8:00pm PST
Pete Hammond

Oscar telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron know their stuff when it comes to putting on a show. With huge musical successes in movies (Chicago, Hairspray, Footloose), TV (The Music Man, Cinderella), and Broadway (Promises Promises, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying), they have the chops to pull off the film industry’s biggest night of the year, though it has sometimes proved a pitfall for other producers. It can be challenging when the Academy mandates that valuable airtime goes to all 24 categories, including sound mixers, makeup and hairstylists, and producers of documentary short subjects, to name a few. But that doesn’t faze this veteran producing pair who say they started assembling the show’s elements from the day they got the job in late August.

Related: OSCARS: New James Bond Promo Ad

“We certainly are going to be celebrating the nominees and winners like a regular Oscar show, but they are fitting into the design of the show that we’ve created, so there’s going to be an enormous amount of entertainment”, Zadan says, pointing to the 50 years of James Bond tribute they have announced, which won’t be a reunion Read More »

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OSCARS: Host Seth MacFarlane On Video

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has released portions of an interview with 85th annual Oscars host Seth MacFarlane on his biggest challenge as host, on his involvement in the show’s production, on keeping things unpredictable, on how Saturday Night Live helped him prepare, on interacting … Read More »

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Tommy Dewey To Star In Seth MacFarlane-Produced Fox Comedy Series ‘Dads’

By | Tuesday February 12, 2013 @ 5:46pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Tommy Dewey has landed a lead role in Dads, Fox‘s six-episode multi-camera comedy series from Ted co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild and co-writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane. Written by Sulkin and Wild, Dads centers on two successful guys in their 30s, Eli and Warner (Dewey), who have their lives turned upside down when their nightmare dads unexpectedly move in with them. Read More »

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