According to show co-creator, producer, and voice of Cleveland Mike Henry, the appearance came out of a trip to Las Vegas where a casting director arranged for Henry to meet the guys backstage after a show. When they showed interest, that was that. "We wrote the part and sent it on over," says Henry, speaking at a conference call with media.
"You planted the seed a year ago saying, hey, would you like to be on the show that's not on TV yet?" says Hall.
Whatever big decision Cleveland is making in the episode, Henry is a bit cagey. "Maybe Auntie Mamma has got a penis," says Henry. "Let's just say that. There. I've given it away."
Based on the pilot episode, the analogy that can be made is this: Family Guy is to All In The Family what The Cleveland Show is to The Jeffersons (with a little What's Happening!! and Good Times thrown in). Even the theme music is reminiscent of a 70's black sitcom, plus a few visual cues from Soul Train. The theme is catchy and even better than the Family Guy theme.
With Cleveland Jr. in tow, Cleveland's got a new wife, a couple of rowdy stepkids and, of course, some very interesting (and very diverse) new neighbors, which all comes together to make 'The Cleveland Show' (premieres Sun., Sept. 27, 8:30PM ET on Fox).
We got creators Rich Appel and Mike Henry -- who is also the voice of Cleveland, among other characters -- to tell us how 'Cleveland' is different from 'Family Guy,' which episodes are their favorites and what it was like working with Kanye West. (Shocker: He arrived early!)
The first episode (airing Sunday at 8:30 ET on FOX) begins in Quahog with the cast of Family Guy. The entire circumstance behind Cleveland's departure from that show is explained before the opening theme song. And what a theme song! It's better than Family Guy's. Very catchy. It's the sort that sticks in your mind like Fun Tac.
The show has booked two evenings at Carnegie Hall. The cast and crew from the show will perform two uncensored episodes of the show, along with various musical numbers. It's called Family Guy Sings! and will run on November 24 and 25.
The show has done these shows before, at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal and cities around the U.S., but hey, this Carnegie Hall! I think it would be funny if the place insisted that everyone dress in black tie and formal dress.
This seems to be a trend. During the writers strike, the cast of 30 Rock did a staged reading of one of their episodes. Maybe this is something that TV shows can do during the off-season, when the shows are in repeats. I wonder what 24 would be like on Broadway?
I have come to an epiphany when it comes to American Dad and Family Guy: a studio audience is needed. I came to this realization after attending both the Comic-Con panels for these respective shows, which showed clips from their respective series. Scenes that I would have generally smirked at or given a chuckle made me laugh out loud along with the rest of the audience. Which brings me to one of two conclusions: either laughter is contagious, or I am just a lemming.
Either way, an enjoyable two hours was spent with casts from both shows as they did some table readings, provided some clues to upcoming episodes,and provided clips from some previously run and new episodes of both shows.
As usual, FOX leaves the best press conference (at least as far as I was concerned) for last. I sat through Karl Rove and Chris Wallace getting contentious with the critics near the end of the FOX News panel (more on that later), Jerry O'Connell and the cast of Do Not Disturb strain to answer questions about a show whose clip reel wasn't all that funny, and the millionaires from Secret Millionaire talk about being poor for a week. All of it was made worth it (and, really, seeing Rove start to get annoyed near the end was fun to watch) so we could see the final panel: all the producers of all FOX's Sunday animated shows.
The first person who spoke up, not surprisingly, was Seth MacFarlane. "Is this where Karl Rove sat? Because I don't want to get AIDS." Wow. Unfortunately, no line that was said after that was as shocking or funny. But it was all still pretty good.
Cleveland is perhaps the most down to earth of Peter's pals on Family Guy, which could make him the perfect centerpiece of a new cartoon series. Zany new characters could be built around him. If history repeats itself, he could be the George Jefferson to Peter Griffin's Archie Bunker, i.e., The Jeffersons spinning off from All in the Family.
And I'm not just talking about the FG swag (pens, notebooks, inflatable Brian dolls) either. The cast of FG is doing a live table read of the show's 100th episode titled "Stewie Kills Lois." The title says it all!
A FOX publicist advises anyone of the faint of heart and all non-Quagmire-types to consider making their way to the exit door. I don't see anyone leave.
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