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Seth MacFarlane


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Seth Woodbury MacFarlane (born October 26, 1973) is an American animator, composer, writer, producer, actor, singer, comedian, voice actor, and director best known for creating the animated sitcoms Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show, for which he also voices many of the characters. He currently owns his own production company, Fuzzy Door Productions.

As an actor, he has made guest appearances on shows such as Gilmore Girls and The War at Home. 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, as well as singing for the opening credits in the film Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder. His cartoon shows are known for spoof references to popular fiction in movies and on television. In 2008, he made his own YouTube channel called Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. As a singer, MacFarlane is notable for performing Broadway tunes on his shows. His best known live performance was in the BBC Proms 2009, where, during the encore, MacFarlane briefly sung in Stewie's voice.

He occasionally speaks at universities and colleges throughout the United States. A recent deal signed with The Fox Broadcasting Company, reportedly worth $100 million, has made MacFarlane the highest-paid television writer and producer in history. He resides in Los Angeles, California, where he purchased a $13.5 million home.


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Early life

MacFarlane was born on October 26, 1973, in Kent, Connecticut. His mother, Ann Perry (née Sager), and father, Ronald Milton MacFarlane, are natives of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and are of English ancestry, partly by way of Canada. During his childhood, MacFarlane developed an interest in illustration and began drawing cartoon characters Fred Flintstone and Woody Woodpecker. When he was eight years old, he drew "Walter Crouton", a comic strip for the The Kent Good Times Dispatch.

MacFarlane received his high school diploma in 1991 from the Kent School in Connecticut. His headmaster, the Rev. Richardson W. Schell, publicly rebuked MacFarlane for his "low" style of humor and later asked Fox not to air Family Guy. MacFarlane's parents, who both taught at the school, resigned in protest.

MacFarlane went on to study animation at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. As a student, he wanted to work for The Walt Disney Company, but changed his mind upon graduating from RISD. As he recalled: "Like a lot of animators, I felt Disney is God. Now, it's become Disney is Satan." During college, he created his thesis film entitled The Life of Larry. His professor at RISD submitted MacFarlane's cartoon to Hanna-Barbera, where he was later hired.

Career in animation and television

At Hanna-Barbera, MacFarlane worked as an animator and writer for Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons series. He also worked on Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and Dexter's Laboratory. MacFarlane also created and wrote a short titled "Zoomates" for Frederator Studios' Oh Yeah! Cartoons on Nickelodeon. In 1996, MacFarlane created a sequel to The Life of Larry called Larry and Steve, which featured 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 contracted MacFarlane to create a series based on the characters, to be called Family Guy.

At 24, MacFarlane was television's youngest executive producer. Fox proposed MacFarlane complete a 15-minute short, giving him a budget of $50,000. MacFarlane stated that the pilot for Family Guy took half a year to create and produce. 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".

Bolstered by high DVD sales and established fan loyalty, Family Guy developed into a $1 billion franchise. On May 4, 2008, after approximately two and a half years of negotiations, MacFarlane reached a $100 million agreement with Fox to keep Family Guy and American Dad until 2012. The deal makes him the world's highest paid television writer.

MacFarlane has come under fire by many critics for 'blandness' in his characters, most notably in a review of American Dad! by Jeff Cohen, who stated, "It's the same chemistry as Family Guy. The daft father, indifferent mother, older and uncool daughter and younger, nerdy and thick son are all too the same. The variety? Instead of a talking dog, we get a talking fish or, in the case of his latest show, The Cleveland Show, talking bears. And instead of a super-intelligent baby we have an undiscovered alien. And The Cleveland Show is looking set to head right down that route."

Family Guy

Family Guy first aired January 31, 1999. MacFarlane's work in animating Family Guy has been influenced by Jackie Gleason and Woody Allen's work, along with examples from The Simpsons and All in the Family. 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 characters — Peter Griffin, Stewie Griffin, Brian Griffin and Glenn Quagmire as well as Tom Tucker and his son Jake and additional characters.

MacFarlane's success with Family Guy has opened doors to other ventures relating to Family Guy. 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". A fan of Broadway musicals, MacFarlane comments on using musicals as a component to Family Guy:

“ "I love the lush orchestration and old-fashioned melody writing ... it just gets you excited, that kind of music," he said. "It's very optimistic. And it's fun. The one thing that's missing for me from popular music today is fun. Guys like [bing] Crosby, or [Frank] Sinatra, or Dean Martin, or Mel Tormé [...] these are guys who sounded like they were having a great time". ”

In addition, a Family Guy video game was released in 2006. Two years later, in August 2007, he closed a digital content production deal with AdSense. 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.

Main article: Criticism of Family Guy

Despite its popularity, Family Guy has not been immune to criticism. The Parents Television Council frequently criticizes Family Guy for its content and has organized letter-writing campaigns aimed at removing Family Guy from FOX's lineup. MacFarlane has responded to these comments by saying, among other things, "That’s like getting hate mail from Hitler. They’re literally terrible human beings." Family Guy has been cancelled twice, although strong fan support and DVD sales have caused Fox to reconsider. MacFarlane mentioned how these cancellations affected the lineup of writers each time Fox again gave Family Guy the green light, "One of the positive aspects of 'Family Guy' constantly being pulled off [the air] is that we were always having to restaff writers".

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, and the series resumed airing regularly, beginning with "Back to the Woods".

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