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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Seth and Oscar should provide a special Sunday night

I’ll be in deep underground Sunday night.

If you know my phone number, please forget it after dark.

Knocks on the door won’t be answered. Heck, even a fire won’t force me from my house until it’s threatening to melt the TV screen.

Movies are on my agenda that night.

Well, movies and a guy named Oscar.

Oh, and that guy named Seth MacFarlane.

If you don’t know who he is, you’re probably a heck of a lot more classy than I.

Or, you enjoy a higher level of entertainment than I.

For the past few years, thanks to cable station TBS, I’ve been catching up with the antics of a fictional family from Rhode Island who seem to find themselves in the strangest predicaments that usually devolve into absolutely crass humor and sudden bursts of song.

It’s the song part that has me particularly dazzled, quite honestly.

“Family Guy” is the brainchild of MacFarlane, who draws, voices characters and sings most of the songs that dot the half-hour animated show.

For a long time, I was under the impression that the British voice that cracks wise and highly inappropriately as baby Stewie was just some actor they’d hired to play the part.

Alas, it’s also MacFarlane, who also is the voice behind father Peter Griffin and the family dog, Brian.

When I say voice, I mean speaking and singing.

A few months after getting hooked on the show, I discovered MacFarlane also had recorded a CD of what music folks call “the classics.”

These aren’t songs that Sinatra or Dean Martin sang. No, through some research, these are songs MacFarlane’s grandparents played when he was a kid growing up in Connecticut. They’re songs our grandparents danced to when they were in high school.

And they’re songs that show off MacFarlane’s voice with lyrics that have nothing to do with poop or graphic sexual content.

My favorite song is what I honestly consider the best version of “Laura” I’ve ever heard. As you can probably guess, I’ve heard a lot of them over my 46 years. His is just breathtaking.

I doubt he’ll sing it tonight. (Darn it!)

Instead we’ll be treated to his take on this year’s best movies. And because of his other claim to fame — directing the movie “Ted” — we all have lots to fear.

If you didn’t see “Ted,” you might not know it’s about a lifelike stuffed teddy bear that befriends a kid and then stays friends with him when they’re grown up. The bear is, shall we say, a little blend of honesty and lack of filter.

OK, he’s a disgusting pig. Are you happy now?

Who knows how much of the stuff from “Ted” or “Family Guy” will filter into the show Sunday night. MacFarlane has said he’s definitely singing during the show, and we got a bit of news this week about a closing number performance with Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth.

MacFarlane’s made no secret of the fact that he thinks he’s going to be blistered by critics for his performance on the show.

“It’s the time commitment I just don’t think I could do again. It will have been almost six months that I’ve been working on this. And I’m still going to get savaged in the press, so… Tina (Fey) and Amy (Poehler) will do it next year and they’ll get rave reviews,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
Hollywood’s funny like that.

When I read that quote, I couldn’t help but think of the catchphrase in “Argo,” which seems as though it could have been coined by MacFarlane. Rather, it was an actual line used Tony Mendez, on whose book the Ben Affleck movie is based.

It’s vulgar. It’s catchy. And it’s a perfect response for MacFarlane if he gets attacked for daring to make the Oscars show edgy and fun.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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