If he is known to you it would be as the creator of Family Guy. His many fans, however, hope that Family Guy is only the beginning of a very long career in comedy and animation.
Like most of us, MacFarlane gained his devotion to animation at a young age. But unlike some of us, that devotion not only stuck with him through his adult life, it got stronger. His doodlings, voice mimicry and love of comedy would combine to form a unique creativity in a unique man. Seth began to discipline his childhood hobby and attended the Rhode Island School of Design where he studied animation and performed stand-up comedy, honing his voice acting on stage. It paid off, and he immediately went to work for Hanna-Barbera out of college, contributing to such shows as Johnny Bravo and Cow & Chicken. His self-produced pilot of a 15 minute piece called Family Guy was introduced to FOX by the heads of Hanna-Barbera, but to no avail. But with success of shows like King of the Hill, FOX suddenly became hungry for more animated television shows. A year after the failed presentation, MacFarlane was given an opportunity to put together a pilot to wow the execs at FOX. His budget was only $50,000 and to put that in perspective, an aired episode of the Family Guy rounds out at a cool million. If that wasn't enough pressure, the first episode was scheduled to air directly after the Super Bowl. During the initial stages, at 24, Seth was working 12 hour days 7 days a week. In short, Family Guy became his life.
The show would go on to be nominated for Emmys in music, outstanding animated program, and voice-acting. Seth won an Outstanding Voice-Over Performance award for his performance of Stewie Griffin, the diabolical 1-yr-old genius bent on world-domination who sounds like Rex Harrison. Stewie is arguably one of the show's most popular characters, and if I could be so bold as to inject my opinion, he is one of my most beloved characters in all of animation. He is also one of the greatest sources of confusion on the show, consistently provoking the same question over and over. Seth MacFarlane answers in an interview:
Can all the characters hear Stewie when he talks?
The single most asked question about the show. They can, they can hear him and understand him, its just that he's a baby and for that reason they just don't take what he says with any seriousness.
So it's just funny that he wants to kill Lois?
Yeah, the best analogy I can come up with....there was an incident where my cousin's 4 year old son was leaving our house and he turned to my mother and said, "I'll see you in Hell." No one really knew where he picked that up, but everyone was laughing their asses off because here was this 4 year old telling my mother he would see her in hell.
Though the show was wildly popular and garnered rave reviews from critics, inept scheduling and 'bumbling' by the executives at FOX combined to pull the show off the air after only two seasons. Even die-hard fans couldn't keep up with the show's jumps to many different nights and timeslots. What followed was the most massive inpouring of support for the show's revival that FOX has ever seen for any cancelled show. Seth and his brainchild waited it out to see what the future of Family Guy would hold, but many of the writers left the show at that point. FOX did eventually purchase a third season, and because MacFarlane is by and large the force behind the show, the third season wasn't hit too hard by its staffing switch. Family Guy was on for its third, but alas, final season. The show is now in syndication on Cartoon Central and the first and second season have been released on DVD with the third due out later this year. (edit 2011: Obviously Family Guy has not been cancelled, and MacFarlane has gone on to produce multiple successful shows for Fox, as well as delivering many hilarious performances in film and television).
The loss of Family Guy was tragic enough, but the world almost lost Seth MacFarlane on that fateful September day. He was booked on the flight that crashed into the World Trade Center, but missed it by 10 minutes because of a hangover, in a case where alcohol is truly beneficial to your health. But thankfully he is with us to spark controversy with his wit. Multiple scenes have been edited out, such as the one where Stewie gets by airport security by distracting them with a song and dance. Walking away he exclaims, "Let's hope Osama bin Laden doesn't know show-tunes." The entire episode, When You Wish Upon a Weinstein was never aired because FOX feared it could be too offensive. The episode is about Peter's (the patriarch of the family) attempt to get a Jewish friend and convert his son. Though the show is not anti-semitic and was approved in letter by two rabbis, it was too much for FOX, and can only be viewed on the DVD or by download on a P2P network*. Seth is currently at work on a new project that he promises will be as "irreverent" as Family Guy.
can now be viewed in syndication on TBS
, and Cartoon Network