LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Oscar host Seth MacFarlane is inviting college students to join him on stage at the Academy Awards.
The "Family Guy" creator made a surprise appearance at UCLA to announce a contest sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and MTV that will allow winning college students to appear on the Feb. 24 Oscar telecast.
The contest invites students to submit videos on the academy's Facebook page describing how they'll contribute to the future of film. At least six winners will serve as trophy carriers on the Oscar show, replacing the leggy models who usually perform the duties.
MacFarlane spent 40 minutes leading the undergraduate film and television class at UCLA's Westwood campus on Wednesday as part of MTV's "Stand In" series, which brings celebrities to colleges as guest lecturers.
"In re-imagining what we want the Oscar show to be, we wanted everyone appearing on that stage to feel a deep commitment to film and its legacy, and most importantly, its future," said Oscar telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron in a statement. "That was the impetus in creating this special honour for young film students who will inspire a new generation to create the films that will be honoured in the future."
The contest is also aimed at drawing younger viewers favoured by advertisers to the Oscars' aging TV audience. Like UCLA student Abby Smith, who immediately pulled out her smartphone to share the moment on Facebook when MacFarlane appeared before her class.
"Seth MacFarlane is speaking to my film lecture for the next hour," Smith posted. "I'm having a panic attack."
The 39-year-old entertainer urged the aspiring filmmakers and show-runners in the class to make a "commercially viable student film" before leaving school, adding that "Family Guy" was based on his own student film.
And MacFarlane said "Family Guy" could once again become a film. He said he's already come up with a concept for a feature-length movie and promised "it will happen at some point."
MacFarlane cheekily described the Academy Awards as "a crazy little variety show" and said "all I can do is do what I think is funny and most entertaining."
"The Oscars is a tricky venue," he said. "The (hosts) who have not done well, I would classify them as a noble failure, an honourable failure, because at least they were trying something new... If I can do it without torpedoing my career and getting drummed out of the business... All I can do is my very best."
He paused a beat, and added, "Lame (expletive) answer."
AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APSandy.