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ABC boss Paul Lee says he's "bullish" on Seth MacFarlane as host of the Academy Awards, despite his irreverent approach to comedy and the polarizing effect he can have on viewers.

"He brings a sense of joy. He wants to be there," Lee told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour Thursday. "He's one of the funniest writers in the world. He loves the show and has a lot of respect for it. ... I think he'll bring a real contemporary feel and have a lot of fun out there."

Early morning TV viewers received a small sampling of MacFarlane's tongue-in-cheek approach when he appeared with actress Emma Stone on Thursday to announce the Oscar nominations. Lee thought he was "fantastic" and was also encouraged by the number of popular movies that landed on the nomination list.

"I may be proven wrong, but I'm feeling good about (the show) and I'm feeling good about him," Lee said.

The Academy Awards will air Feb. 24 on ABC.

As for other business at ABC, Lee said, "We have a lot to shout about and we also have a lot to do."

Some tidbits from the ABC executive session:

  • Of the disappointing ratings for the first all-star edition of "Dancing With the Stars," Lee said viewers would rather see contestants make a journey and evolve over the season.

    "It turns out that people want to see bad dancing as much as they do good dancing," he said.

  • On the demise of "Last Resort," one of the buzziest shows of the fall, Lee felt that that it was too much of a male-centric show for a network that caters heavily to females.

    "If we do shows that guys like but women don't want to come to, that doesn't work for us," he said. Meanwhile, the failure of "666 Park Avenue" was a surprise because it had "tracked so well."

  • Shonda Rhimes' sophomore hit "Scandal" is "just rocking and rolling," Lee gushed. "Shonda is passionate about this show. It's a huge credit to her that it's so different from 'Grey's Anatomy.' "

  • Looking ahead, Lee revealed that the pilot for "S.H.I.E.L.D.," Josh Whedon's adaptation of the Marvel saga, has been fast-tracked, and he's confident that it will be picked up for series.

    Lee called the script "great" and full of "funny male/female relationships and a lot of action." He believes the show, with Ming-Na in the lead role, will have plenty of family appeal.

    Reach Chuck Barney at cbarney@bayareanewsgroup. Follow him at www.twitter.com/chuckbarney