Crass meets class: Seth McFarlane to sing big finale at Academy Awards

Mark Deming
Yahoo! Movies Oscars Blog

There's a long-standing tradition at the Academy Awards -- at the end of the night, after hours of waiting, the winner of Best Picture is finally announced. After a brief acceptance speech, the show's producers and host then scramble to end the program as quickly as humanly possible. But this year is going to be different.

For the 2013 Oscars telecast, producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan promise to close out the program with a splashy musical number featuring host Seth MacFarlane and singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth. It should be a fitting closer to a show dedicated to the close relationship between music and the movies.

Meron and Zadan have a strong background in producing musicals, both on screen ("Chicago") and on Broadway ("How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying"), and for Sunday night's telecast, they're staging a number of musical moments that will feature plenty of high profile talent. Barbra Streisand, making a rare appearance on live television, will sing at the Academy Awards show for the first time in thirty-six years. Shirley Bassey, the instantly recognizable voice behind the theme from "Goldfinger," will appear as part of a tribute to the James Bond series. Adele, fresh off winning yet another Grammy, will sing the Oscar-nominated theme from the recent Bond smash "Skyfall." And Jennifer Hudson, who enjoyed a career breakthrough with the film version of "Dreamgirls," will take part in a tribute to recent Hollywood musicals.

While host Seth MacFarlane -- best known as the creator of "Family Guy" and "American Dad" and the writer/director of "Ted" -- might seem like an odd choice for an evening paying homage to movie music, Meron and Zadan insist he's a perfect fit, especially after hearing him sing a set of old standards with an orchestra at a performance in London.

(In 2011, MacFarlane also released an album in the same vein, "Music Is Better Than Words.") "We thought it was a very cool idea," Zadan said. "Also, he gave us what we needed for the concept of our show. We want a lot of comedy, and he's giving us a lot of comedy -- a lot. But also we needed a host who can sing, and he gives us that whenever we need to use him in the show for music."

Meron and Zadan may be delivering lots of comedy and music, but they're keeping the details under wraps. While the show will include a tribute to James Bond, the producers have failed to confirm or deny rumors that all six actors who've played 007 will appear on stage together. Streisand's appearance has brought a lot of media attention to the show, but it hasn't yet been revealed what she'll sing. And while other musical numbers have been hinted at, viewers will have to wait until Sunday to see just what they'll be. One thing that has been revealed -- Meron and Zadan will also be producing the pre-show red carpet event, and plan to use the opportunity to highlight the role fashion has played at the Oscars over the years.

How MacFarlane's frequently rude sense of humor will mesh with a glossy night of music and glamour is an open question, but the producers are promising a show packed with memorable moments. "Our goal has always been to be as close to three hours as humanly possible," Zadan said. "What that means in reality is hard to say because we have so much entertainment. A lot depends on the audience reaction, how long the speeches go, stuff we have no control over. But we're trying to make that time fly by with lots of entertainment."