The news: Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Fox's Family Guy and the writer/director/star of the hit feature film Ted, will host the 85th annual Academy Awards in February 2013. (Watch MacFarlane break the news to his rather underwhelmed father below.)
The context: 2012 has already been a big year for MacFarlane. Ted, a gleefully vulgar comedy about a grown man whose childhood teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane) has become a foul-mouthed horndog, was a surprise smash hit over the summer. And the Oscars announcement comes just weeks after MacFarlane's well-received turn as host for Saturday Night Live's season premiere. (Watch MacFarlane's Saturday Night Live debut below.) Indeed, the Oscars mark an undeniable step up for a man whose highest-profile hosting gig before SNL was Comedy Central's roast of Charlie Sheen. But despite his relative inexperience, MacFarlane has already proved he can thrive under pressure. At the Emmy Awards last month, he accidentally began speaking into a dead microphone. The audience laughed nervously. But the quick-thinking MacFarlane soon found the correct microphone, and ad-libbed — in the voice of popular Family Guy character Stewie — "This is what happens when you don't come to rehearsal." The audience roared, and MacFarlane prophesied, "That's gonna be on YouTube." He was right.
The reaction: "Perfect," says Kristopher Tapley at Hitfix. "I was really sold by that SNL appearance. MacFarlane will bring the right touch of irreverence without the Academy having to resort to Ricky Gervais... and will be a fresh face amid countless stale picks over the years." Plus, "the Family Guy thing does plenty to get the younger demographic somewhat interested."
Watch MacFarlane on SNL:
And check out MacFarlane announcing his Oscar-hosting gig: