Seth MacFarlane

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Seth MacFarlane
Seth MacFarlane
MacFarlane at the San Diego Comic-Con International, July 2012
Born Seth Woodbury MacFarlane
(1973-10-26) October 26, 1973 (age 40)
Kent, Connecticut, U.S.
Education Kent School
Alma mater Rhode Island School of Design (Bachelor of Fine Arts)
Occupation Actor, animator, comedian, writer, producer, director, singer-songwriter
Years active 1995–present
Known for Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show, Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy, Music Is Better Than Words, Ted, A Million Ways to Die in the West
Religion None
Parents Ronald Milton MacFarlane
Ann Perry Sager
Relatives Rachael Ann MacFarlane (sister)
Musical career
Genres Swing, big band, jazz, traditional pop
Instruments Vocals, piano
Labels Universal Republic, Republic
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Voice-Over Performance
2000 Family Guy
Outstanding Music and Lyrics
2002 Family Guy
Signature Seth MacFarlane signature.svg

Seth Woodbury MacFarlane (/ˈsɛθ ˈwʊdbɛri məkˈfɑrlɪn/; born October 26, 1973)[1] is an American actor, animator, comedian, writer, producer, director, and singer-songwriter. He is the creator of the TV series Family Guy (1999–2003, 2005–present) and co-creator of the TV series American Dad! (2005–present) and The Cleveland Show (2009–2013). He also voices many of the shows' various characters.

MacFarlane grew up in Kent, Connecticut and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied animation, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.[2] Recruited to Hollywood during the senior film festival by development executive Ellen Cockrill and President Fred Seibert,[3] he was an animator and writer for Hanna-Barbera for several television shows, including Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, Dexter's Laboratory, I Am Weasel, and his own Family Guy-like "prequel", Larry & Steve.

As an actor, he has made guest appearances on shows such as Gilmore Girls, The War at Home, and FlashForward. MacFarlane's interest in science fiction and fantasy has led to cameo and guest appearances on Star Trek: Enterprise and voicing the character of Johann Kraus in Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. In 2008, he created his own YouTube series entitled Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. As a singer MacFarlane has performed at several venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall. MacFarlane has won several awards for his work on Family Guy, including two Primetime Emmy Awards and an Annie Award. In 2009, he won the Webby Award for Film & Video Person of the Year. He occasionally speaks at universities and colleges throughout the United States, and he is a supporter of gay rights.

His first feature-length comedy film, Ted, stars Mark Wahlberg as an adult who, as a kid, wished his teddy bear would come to life. MacFarlane voiced and provided motion capture for the bear. It was released on June 29, 2012, and went on to become the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time.[4] In September 2011, MacFarlane released his debut album Music Is Better Than Words. Also in 2011, he began a revival of Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones for the Fox network. The first episode was due to air in the U.S. in 2013,[5][6] but production has been indefinitely delayed due to MacFarlane's schedule.[7]

MacFarlane served as executive producer of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, an update of the 1980s Carl Sagan-hosted Cosmos series. The new series, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, debuted in March 2014. MacFarlane was instrumental in providing funding for the show, as well as securing studio support for it from other entertainment executives.[8] Besides serving as one of the executive producers, MacFarlane also provided voices for characters during the animation portions of the series.

Early life and education

Seth Woodbury MacFarlane was born in Kent, Connecticut. His parents, Ann Perry (née Sager; 1947–2010) and Ronald Milton MacFarlane (born 1946), were born in Newburyport, Massachusetts.[9] His sister is voice actress Rachael Ann MacFarlane (born 1976). He is of English, Scottish, and Irish descent, with roots in New England going back to the 1600s.[1] MacFarlane's parents met in 1970, when they both lived and worked in Boston, Massachusetts, and married later that year.[9] The couple moved to Kent in 1972, where Ann began working in the Admissions Office at South Kent School. She later worked in the College Guidance and Admissions Offices at the Kent School, a selective college preparatory school where Ronald also was a teacher.[9][10] During his childhood, MacFarlane developed an interest in illustration and began drawing cartoon characters Fred Flintstone and Woody Woodpecker, as early as two years old.[11] His childhood comedy influences included people like Woody Allen, Jackie Gleason, Mel Brooks, and the creators of Monty Python.[12] By the age of five, MacFarlane knew that he would want to pursue a career in animation, and began by creating flip books, after his parents found a book on the subject for him.[13] Four years later, aged nine, MacFarlane began publishing a weekly comic strip entitled "Walter Crouton" for The Kent Good Times Dispatch, the local newspaper in Kent, Connecticut, which paid him five dollars per week.[14][15] In one anecdote from the time, MacFarlane said in an October 2011 interview that as a child he was always "weirdly fascinated by the Communion ceremony". He created a strip with a character kneeling at the altar taking Communion and asking "Can I have fries with that?" The paper printed it and he got an "angry letter" from the local priest; it led to "sort of a little mini-controversy" in the town.[16]

MacFarlane received his high school diploma in 1991 from the Kent School.[9][10] While there, he continued experimenting with animation, and his parents gave him an 8 mm camera.[17] MacFarlane went on to study film, video and animation at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.[14] As a student, he had originally intended to work for Disney, but changed his mind upon graduating.[18] At RISD MacFarlane created a series of independent films, eventually meeting future Family Guy cast member Mike Henry, whose brother Patrick was MacFarlane's classmate. During his time at RISD, MacFarlane performed stand-up comedy.[19] In his senior year at RISD MacFarlane created a thesis film entitled The Life of Larry, which eventually would become the inspiration for Family Guy.[14] MacFarlane's professor submitted his film to the animation studio Hanna-Barbera, where he was later hired.[20]

Career

Hanna-Barbera years

After college MacFarlane was hired at Hanna-Barbera (then Hanna-Barbera Cartoons) based on the writing content of The Life of Larry, rather than on cartooning ability. He was one of only a few people hired by the company solely based on writing talent.[2] He worked as an animator and writer for Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons series.[21] He described the atmosphere at Hanna-Barbera as resembling an "old-fashioned Hollywood structure, where you move from one show to another or you jump from a writing job on one show to a storyboard job on another". MacFarlane worked on four television series during his tenure at the studio: Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel, and Johnny Bravo.[22][23] Working as both a writer and storyboard artist, MacFarlane spent the most time on Johnny Bravo. He found it easier to develop his own style at Johnny Bravo through the show's process of scriptwriting, which Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, and I Am Weasel did not use.[2] As a part of the Johnny Bravo crew, MacFarlane met actors and voiceover artists such as Adam West and Jack Sheldon of Schoolhouse Rock! fame. Meeting these individuals later became significant to the production and success of his Family Guy series.

He also did freelance work for Walt Disney Television Animation, writing for Jungle Cubs, and for Nelvana, where he wrote for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Through strict observation of writing elements such as story progression, character stakes and plot points, MacFarlane found the work for Disney was, from a writing standpoint, very valuable in preparation for his career (particularly on Ace Ventura).[2] MacFarlane also created and wrote a short titled Zoomates for Frederator Studios' Oh Yeah! Cartoons on Nickelodeon.[24] In 1996, MacFarlane created a sequel to The Life of Larry entitled Larry & Steve, which features a middle-aged character named Larry and an intellectual dog, Steve. The short was broadcast as one of Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons. Executives at Fox saw both Larry shorts and negotiations soon began for a prime-time animated series.[25]

Family Guy

Main article: Family Guy

Although MacFarlane enjoyed working at Hanna-Barbera, he felt his real calling was for prime-time animation, which would allow a much edgier style of humor.[2] He first pitched Family Guy to Fox during his tenure at Hanna-Barbera. A development executive for Hanna-Barbera, who was trying to get back into the prime-time business at the time, introduced MacFarlane to Leslie Kolins and Mike Darnell, heads of the alternative comedy department at Fox. After the success of King of the Hill in 1997, MacFarlane called Kolins once more to ask about a possible second pitch for the series. The company offered the young writer a strange deal: Fox gave him a budget of US$50,000 to produce a pilot that could lead to a series (most episodes of animated prime-time productions cost at least US$1 million).[2][26] Recalling the experience in an interview with The New York Times, MacFarlane stated, "I spent about six months with no sleep and no life, just drawing like crazy in my kitchen and doing this pilot".[27]

After six months, MacFarlane returned to Fox with a "very, very simply, crudely animated film – with just enough to get the tone of the show across" to present to the executives, who loved the pilot and ordered the series immediately.[2] In July 1998, the Fox Broadcast Company announced the purchase of Family Guy for a January 1999 debut.[28] Family Guy was originally intended to be a series of shorts on MADtv, much in the same way The Simpsons had begun on The Tracey Ullman Show a decade earlier. Negotiations for the show's MADtv connection fell through early on as a result of budgetary concerns.[2] At age 24, MacFarlane was television's youngest executive producer.[11]

Family Guy first aired January 31, 1999.[29] MacFarlane's work in animating Family Guy has been influenced by Jackie Gleason and Hanna-Barbera along with examples from The Simpsons and All in the Family.[30] In addition to writing three episodes, "Death Has a Shadow", "Family Guy Viewer Mail 1" and "North by North Quahog", MacFarlane voices Family Guy's main male characters – Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin, Brian Griffin, and Glenn Quagmire as well as Tom Tucker, his son Jake Tucker, and additional characters. Bolstered by high DVD sales and established fan loyalty, Family Guy developed into a US$1-billion franchise.[26] On May 4, 2008, after approximately two and a half years of negotiations, MacFarlane reached a US$100-million agreement with Fox to keep Family Guy and American Dad! until 2012. The agreement makes him the world's highest paid television writer.[31]

MacFarlane's success with Family Guy has opened doors to other ventures relating to the show. On April 26, 2005, he and composer Walter Murphy created Family Guy: Live in Vegas. The soundtrack features a Broadway show tune theme, and MacFarlane voiced Stewie in the track "Stewie's Sexy Party".[32] A fan of Broadway musicals,[25] MacFarlane comments on using musicals as a component to Family Guy:

In addition, a Family Guy video game was released in 2006.[34] Two years later, in August 2007, he closed a digital content production deal with AdSense.[35] MacFarlane takes cast members on the road to voice characters in front of live audiences. Family Guy Live provides fans with the opportunity to hear future scripts. In mid-2007, Chicago fans had the opportunity to hear the then upcoming sixth season premiere "Blue Harvest". Shows have been played in Montreal, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.[36]

MacFarlane at a RISD reception on June 1, 2007

On July 22, 2007, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, MacFarlane announced that he may start working on a feature film, although "nothing's official".[37] In September 2007, Ricky Blitt gave TV.com an interview confirming that he had already started working on the script.[38] Then in TV Week on July 18, 2008, MacFarlane confirmed plans to produce a theatrically released Family Guy feature film sometime "within the next year".[39] He came up with an idea for the story, "something that you could not do on the show, which [to him] is the only reason to do a movie". He later went on to say he imagines the film to be "an old-style musical with dialogue" similar to The Sound of Music, saying that he would "really be trying to capture, musically, that feel".[40]

Despite its popularity, Family Guy has often been criticized.[41] The Parents Television Council frequently criticizes the show for its content, once organized a letter-writing campaign aimed at removing it from Fox's lineup,[42] and has filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission alleging that some episodes of the show contained indecent content.[43] MacFarlane has responded to the PTC's criticism by saying, among other things, "That's like getting hate mail from Hitler. They're literally terrible human beings."[44] Family Guy has been cancelled twice, although strong fan support and DVD sales have caused Fox to reconsider.[45] MacFarlane mentioned how these cancellations affected the lineup of writers each time Fox approved the show. "One of the positive aspects of Family Guy constantly being pulled off [the air] is that we were always having to restaff writers".[33]

During the sixth season, episodes of Family Guy and American Dad! were delayed from regular broadcast due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike (which MacFarlane participated in to support the writers while Fox aired three Family Guy episodes without MacFarlane's permission). On February 12, 2008, the strike ended,[46] and the series resumed airing regularly, beginning with "Back to the Woods".

American Dad!

Main article: American Dad!

MacFarlane has a second long-running, successful adult animated series in American Dad! which has been in production since early 2005. To date, American Dad! is MacFarlane's only animated series never to have suffered an official cancellation. Though American Dad! will undergo a network relocation from Fox to TBS in July 2014, following the show's current 10th season (2013–14). As announced on July 16, 2013, TBS has picked up the adult animation for a 15-episode 11th season.[47][48] The purpose of the network relocation is to make room for new animated broadcasts on Fox's "Animation Domination" lineup. It has been reported that the relocation of American Dad! has allowed room for another animated series from Seth MacFarlane called Bordertown. Bordertown is slated to begin its run in the 2014–15 television season.[49]

While MacFarlane regularly does extensive voice acting work for American Dad!, he has left much of the show's creative direction up to Weitzman and Barker. MacFarlane has credited this move with helping to give the series its own distinct voice and identity.[50] Though, as announced on November 4, 2013, Barker departed American Dad! after 10 seasons of serving as the show's producer/co-showrunner, resulting from creative differences as production for season 11 on TBS commenced.[51][52] American Dad! was first shown after Super Bowl XXXIX, debuting with the episode "Pilot." This February 6, 2005 series premiere was somewhat of an early sneak preview as the program would not begin airing regularly as part of Fox's Animation Domination until May 1, 2005.[53][54]

Because of atypical scheduling of the show's first 7 episodes, American Dad! has a controversial season number discrepancy in which many are divided as to how many seasons the program has had. Beyond division between media journalists and fans, there has been conflicting reports as to what season the show is in even between American Dad! creators and the show's official website from Fox.[55][56] At Comic-Con 2013 on July 20, American Dad! co-creator Mike Barker hinted that an American Dad! movie—centering on the Roger character and set from his birth planet—is in the works and partially written.

MacFarlane has described the initial seasons of American Dad! as being similar to All in the Family, likening title character Stan Smith's originally bigoted persona to Archie Bunker.[33] MacFarlane has also stated that his inspiration to create American Dad! derived from his and Weitzman's exasperation with George W. Bush's policies as former United States President.[57] After the early couple of seasons however, the series discontinued using these elements of political satire[58] and began to serve up its own very distinguished brand of entertainment and humor.[50] MacFarlane was described as having difficulty understanding the series in its early going; however, he heavily warmed up to the series after its early seasons once he felt the show truly came into its own. His fellow co-creators have sensed this through MacFarlane's greatly increased attention to the series after its early seasons. MacFarlane has also revealed to being a huge American Dad! fan himself. He has taken note of the increasing fondness and excitement over the "Roger" character from fans via his Twitter.[56]

The show focuses on the Smith family: Stan Smith, the insanely drastic, endangering, dog-eat-dog, rash and inconsiderate head of the household. He has an exaggeratedly large chin and masculine manner about him. As the family's breadwinner, he works as a CIA officer and was initially portrayed in the series as an old-fashioned conservative bigot but has since grown out of these traits (the show known for its story arc elements and other distinguishing plot techniques); Stan's paradoxically moralistic yet simultaneously inappropriate, corrupt wife, Francine; and their two children, new-age hippie daughter Hayley and nerdy son Steve. Accompanied with the Smith family are three additional main characters, two of which are non-human species: zany, shocking, blithely cruel and rascally alien Roger, who's full of disguises/alter egos and has few if any limits on his behaviors. He was rescued by Stan from Area 51; Klaus, the man-in-a-fish-body pet. Klaus's unenviable situation came about from a brain of an East German Olympic skier being shrunk and transplanted into a fish body; and Jeff Fischer, Hayley's boyfriend turned "whipped" husband, known for his infatuation with Hayley's mom, Francine.[59][60] Together, the Smiths and their three housemates run what is only at a first glance the typical middle-class American lifestyle, but is anything but.

Seth MacFarlane provides the voices of Stan and Roger, basing Roger's voice on Paul Lynde (who played Uncle Arthur in Bewitched).[11] His sister Rachael MacFarlane provides the voice of Hayley.[61]

The Cleveland Show

Main article: The Cleveland Show

MacFarlane developed the now cancelled Family Guy spin-off called The Cleveland Show, which focuses on the character of Cleveland Brown and his family. The idea for the show originated from a suggestion by Family Guy writer and voice of Cleveland, Mike Henry. Fox ordered 22 episodes and the series first aired on September 27, 2009. The show, which was picked up to air a first season consisting of 22 episodes,[62] was picked up by Fox for a second season, consisting of 13 episodes, bringing the total number to 35 episodes. The announcement was made on May 3, 2009 before the first season even premiered.[63] Due to strong ratings, Fox picked up the back nine episodes of season 2, making a 22-episode season and bringing the total episode count of the show to 44.[64] This is also the only series created by MacFarlane that does not have him voicing the main character.

The Winner

MacFarlane was the executive producer of a live-action sitcom starring Rob Corddry called The Winner. The show premiered on Fox on March 4, 2007.[65] The plot has a man named Glen discussing the time he matured at 32 and has him pursuing his only love after she moves in next door. Glen meets her son and both become good friends.[66]

After only six episodes, the show was officially cancelled on May 16, 2007.[67] However, at Family Guy Live in Montreal on July 21, 2007, Seth MacFarlane stated, "It is looking like there could be a future life for The Winner".[15][68] After MacFarlane's statement, neither Fox nor MacFarlane has released any details of plans for the show to return. The show was mentioned in the Family Guy episode "Family Gay", where all of the horses at a racing track are named after failed Fox shows, The Winner being one of them.

Dads

Main article: Dads (2013 TV series)

In 2013, MacFarlane announced that he would be working on a live-action sitcom called Dads. The series, which had been given the go-ahead for a six-episode season, revolves around Eli, played by Seth Green, and Warner, played by Giovanni Ribisi, two successful guys in their 30's whose world is turned upside down when their dads move in with them. MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild executive-produced the series, with Sulkin and Wild writing.[69] On May 7, 2014, Fox cancelled the series after only one season.[70]

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

In August 2011, Fox announced that they had ordered a 13-part updated series of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. MacFarlane co-produced the series with Ann Druyan and Steven Soter. The new series is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson and began airing on the channel March 9, 2014, with repeats airing on the National Geographic Channel on the next night.[71]

Bordertown

In 2015, MacFarlane will release a series called Bordertown. The series will be set in Texas and follow a border patrol agent named Bud Buckwald and a Mexican immigrant named Ernesto Gonzales. The show will be used to satirize America's changing cultural landscape. MacFarlane first began work on the series in 2009.[72]

Blunt Talk

Main article: Blunt Talk

In 2014, Starz announced that they had ordered a two-season, 20-episode series called Blunt Talk. The series will follow an English newcaster moves to Los Angeles with his alcoholic manservant and the baggage of several failed marriages to host a sanctimonious talk show. the show was created by Jonathan Ames and will also serve as show runner. MacFarlane will serve as executive producer.[73][74]

Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy

On September 10, 2008, MacFarlane released a series of webisodes known as Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy with its animated shorts sponsored by Burger King and released weekly.[75]

Ted

Main article: Ted (film)

MacFarlane made his directorial live-action film debut with the release of Ted in 2012. He announced that he was directing it on an episode of Conan that aired on February 10, 2011. Along with directing the film, he also wrote the screenplay, served as producer and starred as the titular character.

The film tells the story of John (Mark Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear (MacFarlane) who keeps John and his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) from moving on with their lives.

It received generally favorable reviews from both critics and audiences, and was a box office success, opening with the highest weekend gross of all time for an original R-rated comedy.[76] The movie is currently the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time, beating The Hangover Part II.

A sequel, Ted 2 is currently in pre-production and is set to be released on June 26, 2015.[77]

A Million Ways to Die in the West

MacFarlane co-wrote and starred in his second film, A Million Ways to Die in the West. Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild were also co-writers for the film. The movie followed a cowardly sheep farmer (MacFarlane) who chickens out of a gunfight and sees his girlfriend leave him for another man. When a mysterious woman rides into town, she helps him find his courage. But when her outlaw husband arrives seeking revenge, the farmer must put his newfound courage to the test.[78][79] The film was met with mixed to negative reviews from critics.[80]

On January 27, 2014, MacFarlane announced that he wrote a companion novel based on the film's script, which was released on March 4, 2014.[81][82] An audio-book version was also made available, narrated by Jonathan Frakes.[83] MacFarlane wrote the book on weekends during shooting for the film, partially due to boredom.[84]

Other work

MacFarlane at the San Diego Comic-Con International on July 24, 2010

MacFarlane often participates as one of the "roasters" in the annual Comedy Central Roasts. MacFarlane is the only person to serve as roastmaster for more than one Comedy Central roast. In 2010, he filled this role for The Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff.[85] The following year he was roastmaster of Comedy Central roasts of Donald Trump and Charlie Sheen.

Regarding his reboot of The Flintstones MacFarlane said that he would lend his voice to Barney.[86] However, at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2012, while promoting Ted, MacFarlane revealed that the project had been shelved, due to the unimpressed response garnered by the production company, Fox.[87]

Regarding Broadway, MacFarlane told The Hollywood Reporter, "If I did a Broadway musical, I'd probably want to do something a little bit more old fashioned", and went on saying "I wouldn't necessarily do something that was as edgy as what [ Matt Stone and Trey Parker ] have done. The challenge to me would be more along the lines of, gosh, can somebody write Oklahoma! for 2011?"[19] He has also said that, "The good thing about Broadway is that you don't have to worry about an airdate. It gets done when it gets done."[88]

MacFarlane confirmed that he is working on what will be his fifth animated series with Alex Borstein and Gary Janetti. Currently not much is known about the series other than it will be about a family and will have a female lead role.[89]

On October 1, 2012, it was announced that MacFarlane would host the 85th Academy Awards on February 24, 2013.[90][91][92] He also presented the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards with actress Emma Stone, on January 10, 2013. In addition to hosting, MacFarlane was also nominated in the Academy Award for Best Original Song category for co-writing the theme song "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" for his film Ted with Walter Murphy.

Music career

MacFarlane is a pianist and singer who, in his early years, trained with Lee and Sally Sweetland, the vocal coaches of Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra. In 2009, he appeared as a vocalist at the BBC Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra in Prom 22 A Celebration of Classic MGM Film Musicals.[93] In 2010, he reappeared at the Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra in a Christmas concert special. In 2012, it was announced he would again appear at the Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra in a concert celebrating Broadway musicals.[94] He signed a record deal with Universal Republic Records and released a big band/standards album in 2011. MacFarlane's debut studio album, Music Is Better Than Words, was released on September 27, 2011, drawing on his training in and attraction to "the Great American Songbook and particularly the early- to late-'50s era of orchestration". The singer, asked about his experience with the music, said he did "old Nelson Riddle, Billy May charts [with] one of my composers, Ron Jones, [who] has a group called the Influence Jazz Orchestra that he performs with throughout L.A."[16] His album was nominated in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category at the 54th Grammy Awards. Music Is Better Than Words received a score of 52 out of 100 on Metacritic's compilation of music critic reviews.[95] In September 2013, it was announced that MacFarlane was working on a Christmas album scheduled for release in 2014. The album, which contains collaborations with Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles, is titled Holiday for Swing, and was released on September 30, 2014.[96]

MacFarlane has a baritone voice.[97]

Guest appearances

MacFarlane has appeared in sitcoms, comedy and news programs, independent films, and other animated shows. In 2002, MacFarlane appeared in the Gilmore Girls episode "Lorelai's Graduation Day".[20] Four years later on November 5, 2006, MacFarlane guest starred on Fox's The War at Home as "Hillary's Date", an unnamed 33-year-old man who secretly dates teenaged Hillary in the episode "I Wash My Hands of You".[18][98] MacFarlane also appeared as the engineer Ensign Rivers on Star Trek: Enterprise in the third season episode "The Forgotten" and the fourth season episode "Affliction".[99] During 2006, MacFarlane had a role in the independent film Life is Short. He portrayed Dr. Ned, a psychologist who advises a short man (played by Freaks and Geeks star Samm Levine) to have relationships with taller women.[100] He is a frequent guest on the radio talkshow Loveline, hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky.

A man with black hair, wearing a leather jacket, and being interviewed. There is a small microphone in front of him, with a television channel logo placed on it.
MacFarlane being interviewed at the Fox Fall Eco-Casino Party in Hollywood on September 8, 2008.

MacFarlane appeared on the November 11, 2006 episode of Fox's comedy show MADtv and performed a live action re-enactment of a scene from the Family Guy episode "Fast Times at Buddy Cianci Jr. High". In the scene, Peter and Lois suspect Chris of murdering his teacher's husband. As a reaction, a terrified Meg jumps out the window. A version with MacFarlane as Peter, Nicole Parker as Kathy Griffin as Lois, Ike Barinholtz as Dane Cook as Chris, Nicole Randall Johnson as Queen Latifah as Meg, and Keegan-Michael Key as Snoop Dogg as Stewie was recorded over the original cartoon.[101] MacFarlane served as a host to the Canadian Awards for the Electronic & Animated Arts's Second Annual Elan Awards on February 15, 2008.[102]

MacFarlane has also appeared on news shows and late night television shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live![103] and Late Show with David Letterman.[104] On January 19, 2007, MacFarlane appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC to discuss Stephen Colbert's appearance on The O'Reilly Factor and Bill O'Reilly's return appearance on The Colbert Report. MacFarlane introduced the segment by saying in Stewie's voice "Oh, wait Bill. Hold still, allow me to soil myself on you. Victory is mine!"[105] Three months later on March 24, 2007, MacFarlane was interviewed on Fox's Talkshow with Spike Feresten,[106] and closed the show by singing the Frank Sinatra song "You Make Me Feel So Young".[107] He also provided Stewie's voice when he appeared as a brain tumor-induced hallucination to Seeley Booth in an episode of Bones, writing his own dialogue for the episode.[108] On May 8, 2009, MacFarlane was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher.[109]

Other than Family Guy and American Dad!, MacFarlane voices characters in other cartoon shows and films. He voiced Wayne "The Brain" McClain in an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.[110] He has also voiced various characters on Adult Swim's Robot Chicken, including a parody of Lion-O and Emperor Palpatine as well as Peter Griffin in the Season 2 premiere – he even parodied himself in the Season 4 premiere, in which he renewed the show simply by mentioning it in a Family Guy-like cutaway after its fictitious cancellation at the end of Season 3. He also played the villain "The Manotaur" in Bob Boyle's animated kids series Yin Yang Yo!.[111] In addition, MacFarlane voiced Johann Kraus in the 2008 film Hellboy II: The Golden Army.[112] He also had a guest appearance in the animated film Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder where he sings "That Was Then (And This is Too)", the opening theme.[113] He had also starred in a commercial for Hulu in which he plays an alien presenting Hulu as an "evil plot to destroy the world", progressively as his famous Family Guy and American Dad! characters. He also lent his voice to the series finale movie of the Comedy Central series, Drawn Together.

On August 1, 2009, MacFarlane performed at The BBC Proms with John Wilson and his orchestra, singing a selection of songs from MGM musicals[114] alongside Kim Criswell, Sarah Fox, Sir Thomas Allen, and Curtis Stigers.[115][116] Three songs from High Society, Singin' in the Rain, and That's Entertainment were featured. Seth also repeated the MGM musicals show on tour in the UK with the John Wilson Orchestra during November and December 2010.[117] He made another appearance with the John Wilson Orchestra in a BBC Two special, Swingin' Christmas, on December 25, 2010.[118] In 2012, he made another appearance at the Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra.

MacFarlane hosted Comedy Central Roasts, from 2010–2011. MacFarlane also played Ziggy in the 2010 film Tooth Fairy. In August 2010, he appeared as a guest voice-over in a sci-fi themed episode of Disney's Phineas and Ferb entitled "Nerds of a Feather".[119] On September 15, 2012, MacFarlane hosted the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, with musical guest Frank Ocean.[120] The episode was MacFarlane's first appearance on the show. MacFarlane had a cameo in the 2013 film Movie 43.[121]

Speaking engagements

A man with black hair and slight stubble, wearing a black button-up shirt, speaking into a microphone. A man with gray hair, looking straight forward, and wearing suit, sits behind him.
MacFarlane speaking at a ceremony for Bill Maher to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in September 2010

MacFarlane is a frequent speaking guest on college campuses.[122] On April 16, 2006, he was invited by Stanford University's ASSU Speakers' Bureau to address an audience of over 1,000 at Memorial Auditorium.[123] MacFarlane was invited by Harvard University's class of 2006 to deliver the "class day" address on June 7, 2006. He spoke as himself, and also as Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin and Glenn Quagmire.[124] He also has delivered speeches at George Washington University,[122] Washington University in St. Louis,[22] the University of Texas,[125] the University of Missouri,[126] University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University,[127] and Loyola Marymount University.[128]

Activism

Political views

MacFarlane is a supporter of the Democratic Party.[44] He has donated over US $200,000 to various Democratic congressional committees and to the 2008 presidential campaign of then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama.[129] He has stated that he supports the legalization of cannabis.[130]

Gay rights support

MacFarlane is passionate about his support for gay rights. He said it is "infuriating and idiotic" that two gay partners "have to go through this fucking dog and pony act when they stop at a hotel and the guy behind the counter says, 'You want one room or two?'" He went on to say, "I'm incredibly passionate about my support for the gay community and what they're dealing with at this current point in time".[44] MacFarlane continued, "Why is it that Johnny Spaghetti Stain in fucking Georgia can knock a woman up, legally be married to her, and then beat the shit out of her, but these two intelligent, sophisticated writers who have been together for 20 years can't get married?"[44]

MacFarlane, in recognition of "his active, passionate commitment to humanist values, and his fearless support of equal marriage rights and other social justice issues", was named the Harvard Humanist of the Year in 2011.[131]

Despite his supportive position on gay rights, MacFarlane was criticized for his portrayal of transsexualism in the Family Guy episode "Quagmire's Dad". Gay novelist Brent Hartinger found the episode's inclusion of transphobic remarks from Peter and Lois Griffin — as well as a scene of Brian vomiting profusely upon discovering his new girlfriend to be Glenn Quagmire's father – to be "shockingly insensitive". Hartinger continued, "Frankly, it's literally impossible for me to reconcile last night's episode with MacFarlane's words, unless I come to the conclusion that the man is pretty much a complete idiot".[132] The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a LGBT media watchdog organization, shared "serious concerns being voiced from members of the community" about the episode.[133] MacFarlane said he was "surprised" by the negative reaction to "Quagmire's Dad", saying that "it seemed that [gay commentators] were not picking up on the fact that it was a very sympathetic portrayal of a transsexual character". He further added, "Look, Brian happens to be a heterosexual character, as I am. If I found out that I had slept with a transsexual, I might throw up in the same way that a gay guy looks at a vagina and goes, 'Oh, my God, that's disgusting.'"[134]

2008 Writers Guild of America strike

MacFarlane at WGA rally
MacFarlane speaking at a Writers Guild of America rally in Culver City on November 9, 2007

During the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, MacFarlane publicly sided with the Writers Guild, and fully participated in the strike.[135] Official production of Family Guy was halted for most of December 2007 and various periods afterwards. Fox continued producing episodes without MacFarlane's final approval, and although he refused to work on the show during the strike, his contract with Fox required him to contribute to any episodes it subsequently produced.[136] Rumors of continued production on Family Guy prompted the statement from MacFarlane that ".....it would just be a colossal dick move if they did that".[136] The strike ended on February 12, 2008.[46]

The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive

MacFarlane donated money to create The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive at the Library of Congress. MacFarlane said, "The work of Carl Sagan has been a profound influence in my life, and the life of every individual who recognizes the importance of humanity's ongoing commitment to the exploration of our universe," He also, said, "The continuance of our journey outward into space should always occupy some part of our collective attention, regardless of whatever Snooki did last week."[137][138][139]

Personal life

In a 2004 interview with The Daily Princetonian, MacFarlane noted his similarities to Brian Griffin from Family Guy, revealing, "I have some Brian type issues from time to time – looking for the right person – but I date as much as the next guy".[140] MacFarlane has also revealed that he feels most comfortable playing Brian, who is his favorite character from Family Guy and the one he can most closely relate to.[citation needed]

On July 16, 2010, MacFarlane's mother, Ann Perry Sager, died after a long battle with cancer. Her death was reported by Larry King on his show Larry King Live, who acknowledged a conversation he had with her during an interview with her son in May 2010.[9][141] A brief opening scene from the first episode of the ninth season of Family Guy ("And Then There Were Fewer") mentions her lifespan and dedicates the episode to her.[citation needed]

In September 2012, MacFarlane was reported to be dating Emilia Clarke.[142] In March 2013, it was reported that he and Clarke had ended their relationship.[143]

September 11, 2001 experience

On the morning of September 11, 2001, MacFarlane was scheduled to return to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston. Suffering from a hangover from the previous night's celebrations,[144] and with an incorrect departure time (8:15 a.m. instead of 7:45 a.m.) from his travel agent,[145] he arrived at Logan International Airport about ten minutes too late to board the flight as the gates had been closed.[145] Fifteen minutes after departure, American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked,[146] and at 8:46 a.m. it was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, obliterating the airplane and killing everyone on board.[147]

In an interview with TVShowsOnDVD.com, MacFarlane said the following about his close call:

"The only reason it hasn't really affected me as it maybe could have is I didn't really know that I was in any danger until after it was over, so I never had that panic moment. After the fact, it was sobering, but people have a lot of close calls; you're crossing the street and you almost get hit by a car..... this one just happened to be related to something massive. I really can't let it affect me because I'm a comedy writer. I have to put that in the back of my head."[148]

Lawsuits

On October 3, 2007, Bourne Co. Music Publishers filed a lawsuit accusing Family Guy of infringing its copyright on the song "When You Wish upon a Star", through a parody song entitled "I Need a Jew" appearing in the episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein". Bourne Co., the sole United States copyright owner of the song, alleged the parody pairs a "thinly veiled" copy of their music with antisemitic lyrics. Named in the suit were MacFarlane, 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Broadcasting Co., Cartoon Network, and Walter Murphy; the suit sought to stop the program's distribution and asked for unspecified damages.[149] Bourne argued that "I Need a Jew" uses the copyrighted melody of "When You Wish Upon a Star" without commenting on that song, and that it was therefore not a First Amendment-protected parody per the ruling in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.[150][151] On March 16, 2009, United States District Judge Deborah Batts held that Family Guy did not infringe on Bourne's copyright when it transformed the song for comical use in an episode.[152]

In December 2007, Family Guy was again accused of copyright infringement when actor Art Metrano filed a lawsuit regarding a scene in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, in which Jesus performs Metrano's signature "magic" act involving absurd "faux" magical hand gestures while humming the distinctive tune "Fine and Dandy".[153] MacFarlane, 20th Century Fox, Steve Callaghan, and Alex Borstein were all named in the suit.[154] In July 2009, a federal district court judge rejected Fox's motion to dismiss, saying that the first three fair use factors involved—"purpose and character of the use", "nature of the infringed work", and "amount and substantiality of the taking"—counted in Metrano's favor, while the fourth—"economic impact"—had to await more fact-finding. In denying the dismissal, the court held that the reference in the scene made light of Jesus and his followers—not Metrano or his act.[155][156][157] The case was settled out of court in 2010 with undisclosed terms.[158]

On July 16, 2014, MacFarlane was hit with a lawsuit from the production company of a series of Internet videos called Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear, a series of Internet videos, claiming that Ted infringes on the copyright of its videos due to the Ted bear largely matching the background story, persona, voice tone, attitude, and dialogue of the Charlie bear.[159]

Filmography

Discography

Studio albums

Title Details Peak chart positions
US US
Jazz
Music Is Better Than Words 111 2
Holiday for Swing
  • Release date: September 30, 2014
  • Label: Republic Records
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download
To be released
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Bibliography

Awards and nominations

References

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