Seth MacFarlane has a promise to viewers who'll tune in to see him host the Academy Awards on Feb. 24: Despite the occasionally crude humor he displays on his show "Family Guy" -- and the fact that he tossed in a Hitler joke when he announced the Oscar nominations -- he won't be telling cheap penis jokes on the Oscars.
Actually, he put it this way on Twitter this week: "My promise for the Oscars: no cheap wiener jokes. Only expensive wiener jokes."
If MacFarlane's jokey way of announcing the Oscar nominations and a string of Oscar video promos aren't enough to suggest what kind of host he'll be, there's always his Twitter page -- or, as he calls it, "The Official Twitter Page of Seth MacFarlane -- Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire," a joke about three years out of date when it comes to Oscar-afflilated humor.
He and Oscar producer Neil Meron have posted a few photos of MacFarlane at work on the Oscars, including one in which he appears to be wearing some sort of harness around his legs and crotch. (One assumes this is for a flying gag, not a cheap weiner joke.)
He's also taken aim at a few of the Best Picture nominees since he was announced as host. Back in early January, there was this:
"Liked 'Les Miz' (the play) but wished they were all way bigger and screaming right in my face. Is there a current film I might enjoy?"
Apparently he got his answer, because that tweet was shortly followed by, "Javert and Valjean just need to get une chambre already."
"Zero Dark Thirty" got a more glancing nod:
"My Zero Dark 30 torture scenario: put me in a tiny room with just a beet salad, Atlas Shrugged, wet socks, and a Wall Street Journal."
When he met with some criticism for his irreverent delivery of the nominations -- which included a joke about "Amour" in which he pointed out, "the last time Austria and Germany co-produced something was Hitler" -- he answered back:
"Press gave me shit for not wearing a tie to the nominations. I'm also busted for skipping lacrosse and mouthing off to the headmaster."
And, "Lotta flap over that Adolf joke. Look, Amour was a great film, so how about this: Austria, we'll give you the Oscar if you take back Arnold."
MacFarlane has been suffering from the flu for much of the run-up to the Oscars, but he told this week's Entertainment Weekly that while his voice is still scratchy, "For the Oscars, I'll be fine."
Meanwhile, it has been a week of both good news and bad news for MacFarlane and the Oscars.
On the plus side of the ledger, Henry Schafer of the Q Scores Company told the New York Times this week that MacFarlane's new Q Scores, the measurement of a celebrity's popularity, have risen substantially since they were last measured in 2009.
Currently, Schafer said, awareness of MacFarlane is on a par with quarterback Peyton Manning, and his positive rating is comparable to Matt Damon and only one point behind Leonardo DiCaprio.
And since the Academy is featuring MacFarlane more prominently in its advertising and promotion than any other recent host, every Q point is vital.
On the other hand, the sports website Grantland this week posted a college-basketball-playoff-style bracket designed to take 64 bad things about the Oscars, pit them against each other and come up with "the most egregious Oscar moment ever."
In the first round, up against "John Cazale was never nominated," is this: "Seth MacFarlane hosts the Oscars, preemptively."
It strikes me that this may be jumping the gun a little bit – but then, I'm one of the people who thought MacFarlane (at right with Zadan and Meron) was pretty funny hosting the nominations announcement.
But the Grantland bracket makes it appear that the presumption in some quarters is that MacFarlane is a train wreck waiting to happen -- not the best position to be in a week before the show, unless enough looky-loos are planning to tune in to see the wreck.
Still, MacFarlane's most cogent Oscar-related tweet was probably the one that recognized (if only between the lines) just how helpless a host can be at changing the show itself:
"This year’s Oscars will be like nothing you can imagine. Unless you can imagine 3 hours of, like, people getting awards and stuff."
Not a bad manifesto for any host, I'd say.
But only "3 hours?" In your dreams, pal.