By SANDY COHEN
LOS ANGELES — Seth MacFarlane might be the hardest working man in show business.
Right now he’s getting ready to host Sunday’s Academy Awards, where he’s also a nominee for the original song for his hit movie “Ted.” He’s producing and writing three animated TV shows (“Family Guy“), plus voicing many of their key characters.
“I’m a little exhausted,” the 39-year-old confessed in a recent interview.
The multitalented entertainer talked with The Associated Press about what makes a great Oscar show, juggling multiple jobs and who he thinks will host next year.
AP: What’s been the best part of the Oscar job so far?
MacFarlane: I’ve enjoyed the writing process. It’s really a very different type of production than I’ve been involved with in the past and it’s such an extensive amount of time, and putting it together and having it feel like it has a shape and a consistency has really been a challenge.
AP: How much is with your own writing team?
MacFarlane: My staff has been composed of primarily “Family Guy” writers, but there’ve been about maybe four folks that have been brought on from other places. But for the most part I’ve been allowed to assemble my own staff, and we’ve tried to find a balance of people that I’ve worked with for a lot of years and that know my rhythms and some new people as well, a few of whom have worked on past Oscar ceremonies.
AP: What are the elements of a great Oscar host?
MacFarlane: It’s part classy Master of Ceremonies and part Friars Club roaster.
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AP: How hard has it been to find that middle ground?
MacFarlane: It’s been a challenge but not an enormous challenge. 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.
AP: Is a blend of Ricky Gervais and Billy Crystal the best example of what you’re going for?
MacFarlane: 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. 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.
AP: How long did you continue voicing the characters on your animated shows after taking on the Oscar job?
MacFarlane: That’s always the challenge. The shows don’t stop for this stuff. They still have to keep moving. And it is a vocal strain. “Family Guy” and “American Dad!” are very vocally taxing shows. There’s a lot of high-energy stuff, a lot of screaming, yelling. A lot of vocal contortions. So that becomes really the biggest challenge of all: How to get it all done and keep it all on schedule and not destroy my throat.
AP: So you’ve essentially had two or three full-time jobs.
MacFarlane: Who knows how this will go. Even if it goes great, I just don’t think that I could do this again. It’s just too much with everything else that I have to do. I’m happy to be doing it and I will be thrilled to have done it, assuming I get out of there in one piece, but I really think this is a one-time thing for me.
MacFarlane: I just don’t like working 150 hours a week. I do like to have some sort of recharge time. I think it makes everything better. If you’re working around the clock, the work starts to suffer. And it hasn’t thus far, but I’m glad (the Oscars are) in a week and a half because I’m getting close to the point where I can’t do six jobs at the same time. And also, Craig and Neil have been pretty open about the fact that they really want to do this once. They want to put on the best Oscars that they possibly can and call it a day… And I have a feeling whoever produces next year will want to put their own stamp on it. Everybody sort of assumes that Tina (Fey) and Amy (Poehler) will do it next year, and I think that is very likely. So whoever comes in and produces next year I think will want to make their own mark. Even if I wanted to do it again, I think that is a factor. Craig and Neil, I am very much a product of their gamble — and I’m busting my ass to make sure they don’t regret it. But we are all sort of looking at this as a one-time thing.
AP: Will you take vacation after this? What are you most looking forward to doing?
MacFarlane: I’ll get a little bit of time off. I’ll get a week or two off. And I’ll probably just do nothing. Even travel sounds exhausting.
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