[03/09/10 - 07:00 PM]
Live at the Paley Festival: "Seth Macfarlane & Friends"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

7:18 PM - A late start! Tonight's archival clip comes from a 1963 episode of "The Flintstones" in which Fred and Barney get down to Ann-Margret singing "I Love You But I Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool."

7:21 PM - The Paley Center's Craig Hitchcock emerges to welcome us and intro the clip package from "Family Guy," "The Cleveland Show" and "American Dad." Pretty random stuff, but so goes most things Seth MacFarlane.

7:45 PM - Craig returns to bring out tonight's moderator - "the great and powerful" Bill Maher, much to everyone's surprise. "I've never watched in my life, even as a child, watched cartoons," he notes. "I was a snob as a child. But Seth changed all that. I love his stuff."

7:47 PM - He subsequently brings out the panelists: Seth Green! Alex Borstein! Dan Palladino ("Family Guy's" showrunner during its early years)! Steve Marmel (writer with Seth on "Johnny Bravo")! Rich Appel ("Cleveland's" showrunner)! Mike Barker (co-creator of "American Dad")! Danny Smith (executive producer on "Family Guy")! Kara Vallow (producer of all of Seth's shows)! And the man himself, Seth MacFarlane!

7:49 PM - "I'm going to take a Larry King approach here," Bill notes. "Which means they sent over a lot of material and I read none of it."

7:51 PM - Alex after being asked to share an embarrassing story about Seth: "Just before we came out, Seth and I were making love. And he ejaculated prematurely."

7:53 PM - Bill asks if they relocated production to Rhode Island, would everyone follow. Alex says she most definitely would: "I'm a hot piece of something there. I'm Mila Kunis in Rhode Island."

7:56 PM - Bill wonders if Seth belongs to the "look at me, mom!" club as far as the reasons behind his TV aspirations. "For me it was like, 'Hey every girl in high school,'" he says. "It wasn't so much about my mom, because I don't want to sleep with my mom."

7:58 PM - Bill brings up Seth's reputation as a drinker. "He doesn't mix it like a lot of people," Bill notes. "It's just a glass of liquor like in the Old West." Seth unabashedly admits "it's just more fun" when he drinks.

8:04 PM - Seth on the FOX executive assigned to "Family Guy": "When we finished the pilot, he said, 'I want that Kool-Aid gag gone. It breaks up this dramatic moment.' It's like we're not doing a Lifetime, Tori Spelling gets raped movie." Bill quips, "That would be a terrific episode!"

8:09 PM - Seth on his TV tastes: "If I watch a cop show, if I watch a medical show, I'm going to see the murder of the week, I'm going to see the disease of the week. I liked things like 'The Twilight Zone.' I'm a 'Star Trek' fan because I didn't know whether I was going to see an adventure story or a quiet relationship story or a story about some sort of political commentary. To turn on a show and not have any idea what it is you're going to see [is fantastic]."

8:10 PM - This prompts Bill to ask Seth for a replay of the Captain Kirk speech he did on "Real Time With Bill Maher" a few weeks ago. He obliges, much to the delight of the audience.

8:12 PM - Rich on the joy of animation: "You never have a producer saying you can't afford to shoot an exterior on the moon, you can't afford to be parodying every TV show in the '80s... The challenge and the fun of these shows is the world is your oyster."

8:13 PM - Seth on his own criticism of the show: "There are times when it is possible to be too crazy. It's like at the core these shows should have the same kind of backbone of a live action show. And sometimes a show can get... we've done them so that [they've] been so out there that they just don't land. I think there was one where Stewie was in a robot suit the whole episode and there was just nothing connecting it to reality... [On the flip side] there's an episode, 'Barely Legal,' where Meg falls in love with Brian. And that show had maybe six or seven 'sets.' We could have done any of them live-action. It's one of our best episodes. So the same rules do apply."

8:14 PM - Bill compliments the show's anything goes style of comedy: "The perfect example is the dog. When you want him to be a dog he's a dog, but most of the time he's not. But at any given moment he reverts back to being asked to shit on the carpet."

8:16 PM - Bill on taping his guest spot on the show: "I used the word 'Christ-y' and the censor came over and said you can't say, 'Christ-y.' I was like, 'Are you fucking kidding me?' You've had Jesus come down off the cross on this show and try to get laid."

8:18 PM - Seth responds, "Oddly enough - and I'm sort of thinking of this now - the censors at FOX probably have their finger on the pulse of what the average Americans are going to get bent out of shape about, more than anyone else at the network. Every time that their Spidey-Sense has gone off about something they've [been right]... You can't on a network take the Lord's name in vain. You can't say 'Jesus Christ' unless it's like [does Peter's voice] 'Jesus Christ!' And he's right there." Bill fires back, "But you can portray him as an asshole."

8:20 PM - Bill wonders if anyone here's been offended by something the show said. Seth Green notes, "I think it was Brian who said Sarah Jessica Parker looked like a foot... that definitely seems to... celebrities and public figures are a little more offended than any [religious people]." Alex notes, "That's because you're a celebrity." Green fires back, "I don't know, I think I've humbly taken more shit than any celebrity."

8:21 PM - "To the viewer it does not look like there are censors," Bill notes. "There are little things," Seth responds. "You can show the Evil Monkey rolling a joint, you can't show him actually [doing it]... it's hairline differentiations." "That's powerfully stupid," Bill notes.

8:23 PM - Mike notes they can't say things on TV now you used to be able to get away with. Case in point: there was a scene in "American Dad" in which "Stan recreates the scene from 'War Games' where Matthew Broderick admits he can't swim. And we [did a] line for line transcript from the movie where Matthew Broderick says, 'Oh Jesus! Oh Jesus! I just wish I knew how to swim. I really want to learn how to swim.' And they wouldn't let us say 'Oh Jesus!' and... it's like you make the argument no, this is, he's calling out to God [not cursing] to learn how to swim... We had to change it to 'Oh God!'"

8:25 PM - Seth elaborates: "The frustrating thing about that is if you said you can have, for the rest of the season, for the duration of the series, you can have your choice of, you can say 'fuck,' you can say 'shit' or you can say 'Jesus Christ, God damn it!' I would, in a second I would pick the third because those are the phrases, people use those phrases, particularly New Englanders."

8:26 PM - "When you call Seth's house, Brian the Dog answers the phone," Danny notes about Seth's vocal talents. "When you introduce him to people at parties, they go, 'Dude, that's the dog!'"

8:27 PM - Seth on the origins of Peter and Stewie: "The voice [of Peter] comes from the security guard who worked at the Rhode Island School of Design where I went to college: [in Peter's voice] 'big, thick Rhode Island accent, everything was said at this volume, absolutely no self-editing whatsover.' The guy could read the phone book and it would make me laugh. The New England/Massachusetts/Rhode Island accent is the most hideous thing I've ever heard." As for Stewie, "Rex Harrison the character actor just always amused me... I had read the biography of Alan J. Lerner, the lyricist.. and he and Rex Harrison were strolling through Hyde Park one day during the development of ['My Fair Lady'] and they were both talking about the trouble they were having with their wives. And Rex, who obviously was, turned out to be gay, said, [in Stewie voice] 'I say, wouldn't it be marvelous if we turned out to be homosexuals?'"

8:30 PM - Bill opens the floor to Q&A.

8:33 PM - Rich on the surprise success of the show's musical numbers: "My son is a teenager now - his friends love 'Family Guy' - and they would laugh at that Donald O'Connor joke in the little clip package and have no idea [what 'Singin' in the Rain' is]."

8:35 PM - Someone asks about the subtle changes to the show's animation style over the years. "It's like the first 'Garfield' book as opposed to the 15th," Seth quips. "His eyes are really tiny and then all of a sudden they get larger." He goes on to note that everyone's voice on the show has gradually gotten higher, a theory that applies to "The Simpsons" as well.

8:37 PM - "My hand to non-existent God," Seth says the "f-ing cry" theory about the opening credits isn't true.

8:39 PM - Bill complains no women have asked questions. A woman in the front asks if she should stand up to ask hers, which leads Bill to order her stand up, then sit down, then stand back up. Pleased with what's happened he shouts, "Show us your tits!" Yup, this is Paleyfest folks.

8:41 PM - Seth says at one point they considered using Mr. T as the replacement for Cleveland on "Family Guy" to fill out the quartet of guys. "He's a born again Christian so it didn't really work out."

8:43 PM - Seth on the origins of Herbert's voice: "[Mike Henry] based that voice on Frank Perdue, the chicken guy. Only people from the East Coast [are going to get that]."

8:44 PM - Seth on getting Adam West to work with him: "We hadn't been able to get a hold of him in a while and we finally reached him at home [in Idaho], we said, 'Adam, gosh, we finally got a hold of you, it's like trying to reach the Pentagon. He goes [in Adam West's voice], 'Well boys, our nation's security in my top concern.' We said, 'That's great! That's cool! So what are you up to?' [In Adam West's voice] 'I'm just pouring some dog food into a bowl.'"

8:47 PM - Seth reveals an upcoming gag will involve "Jim Henson's Taken": "[In Kermit's voice] I don't have any money. What I do have are a certain set of skills... if you don't let the girl go, I will hunt you down and kill you. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!"

8:50 PM - Bill after Seth notes the show costs about $2 million an episode to make: "That is mostly your salary." Seth adds that their budget would make it impossible to do it on cable. Bill however points out HBO will spend about $300 million on "The Pacific." Seth responds, "Yeah what the fuck? You're right!"

8:52 PM - Alex on the advantage of being on broadcast: "Sometimes we have to force ourselves to be more creative because of the guidelines. For instance one time we could not say [pauses to note a child in the audience] the line, she was talking about someone having a Dirty Sanchez. [After looking at the child's mother] It's going to be a long car ride home. And so we came up with a new term which was Muddy Ramierz.

8:55 PM - On that note, that's a wrap! Jim will be covering "Breaking Bad" tomorrow night.

  [march 2010]  


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