February 21st, 2013
05:28 PM ET
The upside to being the prestigious ceremony of the awards season is having the cache, but the downside is that the show can also be seen as stodgy.
Despite efforts to liven it up in recent years, the choice to bring in Anne Hathaway and James Franco for 2011's show backfired, and pulling Billy Crystal off the hosting bench in 2012 was considered safe.
This year, however, with Seth MacFarlane as the master of ceremonies, Oscars producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan are trying to keep the night as entertaining as possible.
That much is evident from the packed list of performers. The 85th annual Oscars will boast sets from Adele, Barbra Streisand and Norah Jones. Shirley Bassey is expected to make her Oscars debut during the tribute to James Bond's 50th anniversary, and there will also be a tribute to movie musicals from the past decade.
Cast members from the Oscar-nominated "Les Mis," including Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks, are expected to show off their vocals during that song-filled segment along with Catherine Zeta-Jones ("Chicago") and Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls").
That's not to mention a routine from host MacFarlane himself, who's rumored to be preparing for a finale number with Kristin Chenoweth.
Meron admits that the heavy focus on music is something of a risk, given that "over the course of many, many years I think people got scared of these big production numbers," he told CNN.
"But we figured out - hopefully– a purpose for having music back on the show and we'll see," he continued. "You know, we hope that people are entertained. I mean, that really is the key thing. We want people to be entertained. And we hope we're going to bring entertainment back to the Oscars."
MacFarlane is one key to that puzzle, and Meron has full faith in his abilities to lead the night.
"He has all of the elements of the quintessential host in the tradition of Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal," Meron said, as Zadan added that MacFarlane "falls right into that line because of all the many diverse things that he's capable of doing."
But as first-time producers of the Oscars, the duo aren't worrying about MacFarlane that much.
"[F]orget about Seth! What about us?" Zadan joked. "No, we're all sort of going at it for the first time, and we're approaching it in a fresh way because we don't know any better, and so we don't know that we're making mistakes. We're looking at as, 'What is the Oscar show that we want to see?' And, 'what is the Oscar show of our fantasies?' And we're creating the show that we would fantasize about seeing. And that's really the truth."
"I think we're at the point where we have such tunnel vision on the show itself that we don't, can't focus on nerves or excitement," Meron said. "We just want to do the best job that we can."
The 85th annual Oscars coverage will kick off on ABC Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
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