Where Seth MacFarlane goes, funny seems to follow. Creator of the irreverent cartoon sitcom “Family Guy” and co-producer and writer of the comedy film “Ted” -- among many, many other projects -- he’s made a living off of making audiences laugh. That’s why, when MacFarlane hosts Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, it may be less of question of whether he’ll crack people up than how.
But, turns out, this New England native has more up his sleeve than just a sharper-than-average funny bone. He’s got some non-comedic interests -- and a few hidden talents -- that just might make him one of the most unique Oscar hosts ever. Study up before he takes the stage:
How he got his start : MacFarlane’s hit show, “Family Guy,” started out as his Rhode Island School of Design thesis film called “The Life of Larry.” A sequel, called “Larry and Steve,” created in 1996, included an intellectual dog that evolved into the character Brian -- and managed to impress network execs at FOX. Even though FOX canceled “Family Guy” twice, the show came back stronger each time and has grown to become one of the most successful prime-time animated series of all time.
Emcee experience : As emcee for Charlie Sheen’s Roast on Comedy Central, MacFarlane scored a major hit with critics and fans alike, and didn’t pull any punches in the humor department. When introducing roaster Mike Tyson, for example, MacFarlane said, "He's a guy who's beaten every opponent he has gone up against, except the letter S." What kind of quips will he have up his sleeve on Sunday?
(Not-so) Hidden talents?: An accomplished vocalist and pianist, MacFarlane gravitates toward big-band jazz and swing music. He released an album of big band standards from the 1940s, '50s and '60s called “Music is Better Than Words” in 2011. Recorded in the same studio -- and with the same microphones -- that Frank Sinatra once used, the album received a Grammy nomination later that year.
The Carl Sagan connection : According to the New York Times, MacFarlane says that “Cosmos,” a PBS series from the ‘80s hosted by the late astronomer Carl Sagan, was a huge influence on him as a kid. “Cosmos” aimed to make science more accessible to the public, and MacFarlane hopes to do the same as he launches a reboot of the show -- hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson -- in 2014 on FOX. In 2012, he also funded the effort to donate 800 boxes of the late Sagan’s scientific notes to the Library of Congress.
Gold potential : MacFarlane might go home with his own Academy Award on Sunday. Along with co-writer Walter Murphy, he’s a nominee for Best Original Song for the theme to the movie “Ted.”
Be sure to tune in to Showbiz Tonight: Road to Gold, Thursday at 11 P.M. ET/PT on HLN. Showbiz Tonight is counting down the top five Oscar must-sees. Don’t miss out!