Sure, Seth MacFarlane has hosted things before — SNL, a couple of Comedy Central roasts, the WGA awards — but nothing like the Oscars. As a result, he's a bit of a wild card. There was his not particularly heartening turn announcing the nominees, but that's really the only physical indication we have of what the show will be like. So we'll have to just take him on his sound-bitten word. Over the last few months, MacFarlane has opened up about the balance of tone he's trying to achieve, who his influences are, how roasty the show will be, and more. Here is what to expect on Sunday, straight from the horse's mouth. (Just to be clear, the horse is Seth MacFarlane — War Horse was last year.)
Rolling Stone: "It's about finding that balance between doing what I do but acknowledging that this is the Academy Awards, not the roast of Donald Trump. It's walking that line between old-fashioned showmanship and allowing it to be contemporary with a little bit of bite ... There's a moment on Family Guy that's just Gene Kelly dancing with Stewie – that's what we have to achieve, a dance between the traditional and the new."
Entertainment Weekly: “The lesson there is [to find] that perfect Goldilocks zone, of classic showmanship and fresh comedy that keeps everything relevant.”
Associated Press: "I'm going to go out there and certainly be mindful that [Billy Crystal, Johnny Carson and Bob Hope's approach is] what works but also try and inject some of what I do into the mix and hopefully come out with something that is fresh and surprising and has an edge but doesn't completely thumb its nose at the Oscars. Change happens incrementally ... I think it's safe to say what we're doing is very self-aware of this challenge that everyone keeps asking about."
Deadline: “I think it’s important to adapt to the production at hand. I wouldn’t do the show the same way I would do a roast and vice versa ... The trick is really going to be to make it as funny as I can and true to what I do but at the same time respectfully adapting the tone for this event which is a very different event than I have been a part of in the past. What that tone is has yet to be determined but it is something I am going to keep a watchful eye on.”
Hosting and/or Roasting?
Associated Press: "It's part classy Master of Ceremonies and part Friars Club roaster."
USA Today: "There is a certain element, even in the days when (five-time host) Johnny Carson was there, of roasting. It's just a matter of how black the meat gets. I'm going somewhere from medium to medium well ... Even if I wanted to turn this into a Comedy Central roast, I'm not an idiot; it would crash and burn because this is just not the audience for it. It just wouldn't work ... Billy Crystal said, 'Don't cut them deeply right off the bat. Because you are not part of the club. Which is true. I'm not Robert De Niro getting up there."
E!: "There will be a balance," he laughs after a very long pause. "It's a different crowd. It's a very talented crowd, but it's also a very thin-skinned crowd ... It's always struck me as odd that the group with the most going for them, with the most to boost them in life, is also the most thin-skinned. I was a nerd in school, so I'm always like, ‘Oh really, you can't take that? Oh my god, I took a hell of a lot worse in high school.'"
The Hollywood Reporter: "Yeah, the Oscars would not be the Oscars without a musical component. Some of the best Oscar shows have had great musical production numbers. So I think there will be a musical element."
USA Today: "There's a musical element to the show ... It's the Oscars, there's an orchestra. It would a shame to not use it."
Deadline: "What Craig [Zadan] and Neal [Meron] are doing thus far, they are putting together a show that is already distinctly different and dare I say superior to what we've seen in the past."
Associated Press: "Certainly Billy Crystal, Johnny Carson and Bob Hope are the three that stand out as the paragons of class and effectiveness and comedic balance in the history of the Oscars. I'm going to go out there and certainly be mindful that that's what works but also try and inject some of what I do into the mix and hopefully come out with something that is fresh and surprising and has an edge but doesn't completely thumb its nose at the Oscars."
Entertainment Weekly: He wants to stay "true to the classy Bob Hope-esque tone.”
USA Today: Billy Crystal told him, "Get comfortable with your shoes before you get out on stage."
Deadline: "[I] would never dare to try and emulate [Johnny Carson], he’s my favorite host.”
How Family Guy and Ted-like It Will Be
Associated Press: "We are, I hope, smart enough guys to be aware of what the tone is and to work within those parameters. So you won't be seeing any (penis) jokes. It's still Disney, for Christ's sake."
Rolling Stone: "But this is not going to be Family Guy Meets the Oscars. Hosts who come in with a specific brand and try to turn the show into the brand, it never works. You have to adapt yourself to the Oscars, not vice versa."
USA Today: "Ted's appearance will be memorable. That'll be something that blows people's mind a little bit ... The Oscars will still be something a family in 2013 can sit down and watch and be just fine with. A family in 1955 might have some issue with it. In 2013, everyone will be fine. Then again, I'm not married and I don't have kids. And my mother was saying [nasty things)]out loud by the time I was 5. So maybe I'm the wrong guy to ask."