Oscars 2015: What to expect from host Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris at the Oscars Nominees' Luncheon in Beverly Hills.
(Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Neil Patrick Harris is a veteran awards show host, having emceed both the Emmys and Tonys to rave reviews, and come Sunday he’ll take on the Oscars for the first time. If his past performances are any indication, he’ll offer a mix of showbiz razzle-dazzle with plenty of tidy one-liners thrown in.

But what else does Harris have in store? Here are some clues about what to expect, straight from the host’s mouth.

FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2015

A crack at Ellen’s selfie


One of the most memorable moments of last year’s Oscars was when Ellen DeGeneres took a star-studded selfie with Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Lupita Nyong’o and more. The picture set a retweet record on Twitter and could be tough to top, but Harris says he’ll try.

He told DeGeneres on her talk show, “Your selfie shot was the most spectacular, successful thing. It worked out so well that it’s this horrible dark cloud above my head now. How do you beat the selfie that broke the Internet?”

“Yeah, I don’t know,” DeGeneres replied.

“I see that in my nightmares,” Harris said. Nonetheless, he added, “I’m going to try and do something better, I think.”


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A Kanye moment (hopefully)

While the Oscars still reign as the most-watched award shows, they’ve never been graced with one of Kanye West’s infamous interruptions.

Harris says he’d welcome such an unscripted moment, though. He told the AP, “Nothing would make me happier than something as random as that, as Kanye West deciding to participate in the show in some way. That’s why you want to watch the Oscars. We hope for things to happen that you’ll only experience by watching it... The crazier the better, as far as I’m concerned.”


A number from “Frozen’s” music masterminds

What happens when hoofer-singer Harris teams up with the husband-and-wife duo who created the music for “Frozen,” including the massive hit “Let It Go?” We’ll soon find out via “Moving Pictures,” a multimedia number written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

On his Twitter account, Harris quipped, “I can tell you that it won’t be a song called ‘Let It O,’ with a big giant Swarovski crystal O in the background.”

A balancing act


One of the challenges of hosting the Oscars is entertaining the live audience and viewers at home, without boring or alienating either group.

As Harris told The Times, “The duality I’m currently over-thinking [is] how do you play to a roomful of people that all know each other, sort of, and concurrently play to a much, much larger audience at home that realistically hasn’t seen all eight of the nominated films for best film?”

He added, “It’s going to be interesting to read the room and make quick snap judgments on what group sense of humor level everyone’s going to have.”

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A few barbs (maybe)

And on the subject of balancing, Harris said he’s been struggling with how sharp-tongued to be. “Do you make jokes at people because they’re funny....[but] they’re there on their special night and they don’t want to be made fun of,” he said on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday. “But if you don’t do that at all are you too saccharine?”

He added, “Honestly, Jimmy, I’m hoping for a scandal this week.” That, he said, would furnish him with some easy comedic targets.

Harris also said he worried some of the good material has been used up in other award shows. “You’re the last hurdle,” he said, “in the award show marathon.”


A magical moment

Harris also has at least one more trick up his sleeve. “I’m a magician, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a hint of magic,” he said in a video produced by the academy. Then he added, “I fear I’ve said too much.”

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