Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron made a controversial hit out of the Oscars last year, but they might be on thin ice this time. Getting Seth McFarlane to host anything is a risky bet and his antics last year got a lot of people – notably the feminist crowd – pretty riled up. The controversy served its purpose. Last year’s show pulled in 40.3 million US viewers, the largest audience the show has had in three years. Zadan and Meron’s show was a hit with the key 18-49 demographic and the duo were invited back this year.

Ellen Degeneres
Ellen might be a safer choice for host, but she is far from boring.

And yet. The choice of Ellen for this year’s host suggests that the producers were at least a little bit intimidated by last year’s backlash. This year’s host, Ellen, while hilarious and ever entertaining, is a much safer option and has proven appeal with the Oscars’ key demo – women.

Pharrell Williams, Elle Style AwardsIdina Menzel
The show will feature performances by the likes of Pharrell Williams and Idina Menzel.

As for the rest of the show, the producers are keeping tight-lipped, apart from a few already announced musical performances. Best song nominees Pharrell Williams, Idina Menzel, Karen O and U2 will all perform, according to Deadline, as will Bette Midler (she recently made the announcement on Twitter). She also reached out to fans for song suggestions, though the producers’ promise of “an especially moving evening” probably means that she’ll go for a ballad, rather than a more lively number.

Bette Midler
Last year it was Streissand, this year's special musical guest is Bette Midler.