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.
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.
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.
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