Pondering possible outcomes of MacFarlane's turn in the Oscars hot seat

Los Angeles TimesFebruary 17, 2013 

LOS ANGELES -- Seth MacFarlane has compared hosting the Oscars to President Obama's first term. By trying to please everyone, this year's Oscar MC says, you end up pleasing no one.

How will MacFarlane fare? From a rundown of what we know about this year's show, we offer the following best- and worst-case scenarios:

n Opening monologue

Best-case scenario: MacFarlane successfully negotiates a tricky tonal middle ground between snark and respect, delivering a broadly appealing sense of irreverence that includes him singing a genuinely funny parody of "Les Miserables."

Worst-case scenario: Remember that Emmy mailer last year for MacFarlane's animated TV show "Family Guy"? The one that appealed to voters by saying, "Come on, you bloated, overprivileged Brentwood Jews, let us into your little club"? We get 10 minutes of that kind of tone-deaf, insider humor, culminating with a cameo from Stewie.

n Show is broken up into 13 acts, each possessing what the producers call a "wow moment."

Best case: Act 1's wow moment: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler join MacFarlane as co-hosts!

Worst case: Producers define "wow moments" as surprise guest appearances from -- OMG! -- the original Broadway casts of "Hairspray" and "Footloose."

n A special tribute to film musicals of the last decade, including best picture nominee "Les Miz," 2002's best picture winner "Chicago" and 2006's "Dreamgirls"

Best case: Anne Hathaway! Jennifer Hudson! Eddie Murphy! Razzle dazzle!

Worst case: An eight-minute interpretive dance number, culminating with Russell Crowe singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."

n Twenty-two cameras, including an army of hand-held specialists

Best case: There's one camera trained on Tommy Lee Jones' face for the entire ceremony.

Worst case: Hand-held cameramen were schooled by Lars von Trier. Nauseated home viewers turn off their TVs en masse.

n Special salute to James Bond movies, celebrating the series' 50th anniversary

Best case: The six men who have played 007 -- Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig -- share the stage.

Worst case: Only Lazenby shows.

n Barbra Streisand sings!

Best case: She performs a moving tribute to her friend and frequent collaborator, composer Marvin Hamlisch. When she finishes, there's not a dry eye in the house.

Worst case: It's not a tribute to Hamlisch. It's a duet with ... MacFarlane.

n Adele performs "Skyfall"

Best case: It's just her and the piano. No needless distractions. No Bond girls shimmying in the background.

Worst case: It's just her and the piano -- with Lazenby sprawled across the top of it.

n Mark Wahlberg reunites with the animated bear from "Ted" to present an award.

Best case: The movie's R-rated comic sensibility is toned down enough to translate to the broadcast's PG-13 standards.

Worst case: Thanks to network censors, we won't be able to hear half their routine.

n Best picture "wow moment"

Best case: "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome ... Gene Hackman!"

Worst case: "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome ... the cast of 'Twilight!'"

n The ceremony ends ...

Best case: ... with the wealth spread around, befitting a year with so many good movies.

Worst case: ... sometime Monday morning.

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