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MacFarlane Takes on the Enemies of 'Family Guy' - PaleyFest Report

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Mar 10th 2010 7:03PM
Seth MacFarlane at PaleyFest 2010It was a communal, sarcastic and distinctly anti-flyover love fest when Seth MacFarlane visited the 2010 PaleyFest Tuesday.

As expected, the event had more of a Comic Con feel to it then the normally more reserved Paley atmosphere. Obsessed fans of 'Family Guy,' 'American Dad' and 'The Cleveland Show' (or fans of all three when you consider they're all kind of the same show) packed into the lavish Saban Theatre to watch MacFarlane sip a little booze, take a few potshots and soak up the adulation.

MacFarlane was joined by Seth Green, Alex Borstein, Dan Palladino, Steve Marmel, Rich Appel, Mike Barker, Danny Smith and Kara Vallow. But MacFarlane held court as the center of attention.

Unfortunately, the presence of Bill Maher (someone who never really was that funny) as host of an event dedicated to MacFarlane (one of the industry's most influential and powerful comedic minds) steered the agenda away from discussing the shows' collective content and future to a more sociopolitical agenda.

"Animation is maybe the only remaining television genre where you can really touch on politics," MacFarlane said. "A live action show can't really go there."

MacFarlane never made clear why he believes that -- beyond the obvious fact that he makes animated shows. And he didn't note the several live action dramas that frequently feature political issues -- like 'Law and Order' or 'The Good Wife.'

When not rehashing politics, MacFarlane and Maher took a breather to kick religion in the pews.

MacFarlane said trying to get any religious subject matter or deity-centered language into the show was the biggest challenge with network censors.

"If I could have a show without any censors involved -- and if I could use any word I wanted," MacFarlane explained, "it wouldn't be (that always popular and multi-faceted four letter word beginning with F). It'd be 'Jesus Christ!' or 'Goddamnit.'"

But, MacFarlane didn't blame the censors as much as the millions of audience members that make his livelihood possible: "(The network censors) have their finger on the pulse of what average Americans get upset about."

The collective dismissive tone to MacFarlane's comments on audience sensitivity could've been a lot shorter if the large digital projection screen behind him and Maher would've posted a graphic reading: "We don't like people who don't live in Los Angeles or New York -- especially if those people live in the South, in the Midwest (except for Chicago and maybe Minneapolis) -- or in Idaho, Wyoming and parts of Arizona."

What was largely missing during the panel was discussions of the shows' plans moving ahead and MacFarlane's specific ideas for a 'Family Guy' movie. More than a year ago, he went on record saying such a film was in the works, but he's gone quiet on it since.

Not even the most frothing fanboy could draw many show-related details from MacFarlane -- unless you count his failed efforts to recruit Mr. T to 'Family Guy' after Cleveland went to his own spin-off. Even then, he got the boot into religion, claiming Mr. T passed because he's a Christian.

In the end, the night was a couple hours of clips and sniping. But the fans ate it up, especially when MacFarlane ramped up the derision.

I was left with the memory of an interview I did with MacFarlane last year after the 100th episode of 'Family Guy.' The ink was barely dry on his nine-figure development contract with Fox, and that news still couldn't bring a real smile to MacFarlane's face.

"Maybe I'll get a fourth show on Fox," MacFarlane said back then. "Maybe then I'll be happy."

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Eric H: "Chill its a cartoon..."

Alex: "It's just a cartoon man, relax."

@John Scott Lewinski: Well, I think there's the answer you were looking for. Cartoons get away with polictical and "non-politically correct" humor because they're just cartoons. They're not meant to be taken seriously at all.

Further, Charactertoon characters don't wrry about being blackballed. I mean, Peter Griffin doesn't have to worry about his next gig or how his role on Family Guy will affect his upcoming movie on Lifetime.

And as for the voice actors on Family Guy, Seth McFarlane-voiced characters (Peter, Brian, Stewie, and Quagmire) are the only one who utter "outrageous" things--Mila Kunis, Seth Green, and Alex Bornstein have never had to take the leap and portray a character being extremely offensive.

Seth takes all the risks, and Seth gets all the rewards.

March 16 2010 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'd find MacFarlane's shows a lot funnier if I didn't find the creator so insufferably smug.

March 16 2010 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

@BugKiller: I take it you aren't aware that Seth Doesn't actually write for any of his shows anymore? He hasn't written an episode since the 3rd season, which is when the standard for Family Guy was a lot higher. And seriously, the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. My point being that if you despise him to such an extent that you're willing to post a ten paragraph hate comment, then he shouldn't be worth your time in the first place. It's just a cartoon man, relax.

And @John Scott Lewinski: Talk about informative, unbiased reporting! *Slow clap*.

March 16 2010 at 5:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Holy crap ...have an agenda much?

theis pice says a lot more about you than it does about Seth

March 11 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"As expected, the event had more of a Comic Con feel to it then the normally more reserved Paley atmosphere."

Dude! You are a writer. You should know your "then" from your "than."

March 11 2010 at 5:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Listened to a Bill Simmons (ESPN's The Sports Guy) double podcast a few months back with Matt Stone.

In it, Bill admitted to finding Family Guy funny because of the pop culture references.

Matt Stone then correctly asked Bill if he liked the show because it was actually funny, or because of random pop culture references that made him remember something from when he grew up (the nostalgia factor).

Matt went on again to say that, again correctly, that yeah, Family Guy does all of these pop culture references, they just don't do them funny.

Seth MacFarlane is the single biggest douche bag not named Dane Cook.

He is not funny. His writing is crap. He is petty and vulgar. He makes Richard Dawkins look restrained and open-minded. His singular talent is that he's a decent voice-over artist.

Seth MacFarlane and his popularity is proof that the future seen in Idiocracy written and directed by Mike Judge (you know, someone who's actually funny and has something intelligent to say about life in America) is upon us.

The stupidist people I know seem to be the ones who find this guy and his terrible shows funny.

And then the ones who find him funny and can do simple addition? No senses of humor, so I can't fault them too much.

But yes, the unfathomable popularity of this unbelievable douche and his brand of "comedy" is a sign of the Idiocracy Apocalypse.

March 11 2010 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BugKiller's comment
Eric H

Chill its a cartoon, plus I think reality TV like Survivor and American Idol is doing much more harm than Family Guy. I am waiting for fox to premiere Ow! My Balls!.

March 11 2010 at 9:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love Bill Maher, and find him hilarious, though I think he's the wrong type of person to host something centered around Seth MacFarlane full of FG fans. It's a different type of humor. That said, Seth was really funny when he was on Real Time with Bill Maher a few weeks ago, Seth and Bill had a good rapport and seem to be good friends.

But if you get off on fart/vomit jokes and obsure 80's references, then Bill Maher's humor is not going to be something you're going to find funny or entertaining.

March 11 2010 at 12:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, even though I probably prefer MacFarlane's humor to Maher's, I wouldn't be surprised if there were more people in the US that thought otherwise.

Also, I don't know if it was the writer's mis-spelling or the copying of a quote from another source, but you mis-spelled 'Goddammit' Or maybe it should be God dammit. Either way, no n should be involved.

March 10 2010 at 10:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Nacho's comment

Actually the "n" is appropriate. "Damnit" being the root word, contains an "n".

March 11 2010 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Unfortunately you missed my point. The "root" of damnit is the misspelling I was referring to. The n in the word damn is only silent because it's at the end of the word, thus "damnit" would be pronounced as "dam knit" (silent k). The proper spelling of the root is "dammit".

March 11 2010 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Unfortunately, the presence of Bill Maher (someone whom I never really found funny) as host of an event"

fixed that for you. unless, unknown to the entire planet, you've become the arbiter of what is funny.

March 10 2010 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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