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 »
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 GirlsLena 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“.
Even 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.
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 »
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:
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 »
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.
EXCLUSIVE: 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 »
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.
“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 »
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 »
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 »
EXCLUSIVE: Brenda Song(The Suite Life On Deck) is the first actor cast in the Fox multi-camera comedy series from Ted co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild and co-writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane. Written by … Read More »
The trio behind Ted, the biggest comedy hit of last summer, are headed to Fox’s 2013-14 schedule. In an unusual move, I hear Fox has opted to go straight to series on the multi-camera live-action comedy written/executive produced by Ted co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild and executive produced by Ted co-writer/director/star Seth MacFarlane. The decision was made based on the pilot script, which I hear the network brass loved. This is the second scripted series set for next season, along with NBC’s comedy starring Michael J. Fox, which has 22-epsiode straight-to-series order. Read More »
It is a big year for TV talent as TV writers/performers are hosting the top movie awards shows this year: the Oscars, Seth MacFarlane, and the Golden Globes, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. (Additionally, Kelsey Grammer is hosting the DGA Awards and Nathan Fillion the WGA Awards.) With their NBC show Smash nominated for best comedy/musical series, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, producers of the upcoming Academy Awards, had a front-row seat at tonight’s Golden Globes ceremony, and Meron, who attended, watched the proceedings up close. MacFarlane didn’t attend but he too watched the Globes, tweeting occasional comments. He later joined the Golden Globes crowd at the HBO party, accompanying his girlfriend, Emilia Clarke, who co-stars on the network’s hit drama Game Of Thrones. MacFarlane was effusive in his praise for Fey and Poehler’s performance as hosts. “Please give Tina and Amy high marks because they did great,” MacFarlane said. Does the duo’s strong showing increase the pressure on him? MacFarlane seemed unfazed. “It doesn’t matter how I do, Oscar hosts always get thrashed,” he deadpanned. Read More »
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences President Hawk Koch vigorously defended the Academy’scontroversial new system of online voting when we spoke right after the nominations announcement this morning. He said despite the kinks and some complaints from members about difficulty in voting electronically that it actually brought out the biggest voter participation the organization has had. “It’s the first time, yes. But the first time you do anything of course there’s problems. Remember the first time you walked? Of course there’s problems. But the truth is we’ve had more people voting for nominations than we’ve ever had. And we had more people in each branch, every single branch had more people voting. So that portends two things. One, the online voting worked and two, everyone was excited about the films this year. They wanted to make sure and vote. And three, the questions about ’oh has everybody had a chance to see all the films?’ Our members saw all the films,” he said breaking with the long held tradition of keeping Academy voter turnout totals secret and not commenting at all on the subject. There had been speculation the Academy’s sometimes-rocky transition into online voting might actually depress voter participation but Koch said that definitely turned out not to be the case according to their internal figures.
Of course the Academy has been under strong scrutiny for the way it has conducted its first foray into the perilous waters of online voting, something every guild and most voting organizations have been doing for the past few years. Because the Academy (which could be a prized target for hackers) has to be overly concerned about security and the threat of having their system infiltrated they devised a “foolproof” system involving the use of codes and passwords and special phone numbers for member verification which confused some members and angered others. Others I spoke with over the course of voting seemed fine with it, so it was a mixed bag. The Academy tried to accommodate everyone and extended the registration period by two weeks after the first Deadline article appeared on November 28, and later changed its rules to automatically send a paper ballot for those who didn’t register online. As more members expressed frustration about being “locked out” of the system the Academy took another unprecedented step and even extended voting by one day to January 4th instead of the original announced date of January 3rd. Read More »