During his opening monologue at last night’s Academy Awards, host Seth MacFarlane anticipated — somewhat accurately, it turns out — the public reaction to his highest-profile gig ever. “Worst Oscar host ever,” read the initial headline, which got incrementally better as the bit went on. The author of the fictional blog post, though, is real and had no idea his name was about to be flashed repeatedly to millions of people. “It was a complete surprise,” TV Guide business editor Stephen Battaglio told Daily Intelligencer today. Like much of MacFarlane’s material, it was a bit of an inside joke.
“A colleague of mine told me today that the publicists were looking for me last week, but they never did find me,” he explained. “Seth apparently wanted it because he wanted to recognize the fact that I was one of the few journalists that supported Family Guy at the very beginning.” Since then, Battaglio and MacFarlane have spoken on numerous occasions, including on a Family Guy panel moderated by Battaglio, and most recently after MacFarlane was selected as Oscars host.
But Battaglio never thought he would be part of the show. “I was watching live,” he said. “When it came up a second time every electronic device in the house went off, including my wife’s iPad and phone.” And he gained about 100 Twitter followers throughout the night. “I’m told my name was trending worldwide at one point,” he added. “I would’ve liked to have gotten a screengrab of that.”
As for the hosting performance, which has been slammed as sexist and all-around “un-PC,” Battaglio thought it was pretty good. “Even though every bit didn’t work I thought he brought an element of unpredictability to it which that show really needs now,” he said. “I think that he’s a maverick and does interesting things that upset people. That makes him a great subject to write about. As a journalist, I’ve always liked him in that respect.”
But would he feel the same way without the targeted cameo? “It didn’t hurt,” Battaglio said.