Seth Woodbury MacFarlane (//; born October 26, 1973) is an American animator, writer, producer, actor, singer, 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 shows' various characters.
A native of Kent, Connecticut, MacFarlane is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied animation, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. He was an animator and writer for Hanna-Barbera for several television shows, including Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken and Dexter's Laboratory, before creating his own series for 20th Century Fox entitled Family Guy in 1999. MacFarlane would go on to co-create American Dad! in 2005, The Winner in 2007 and The Cleveland Show in 2009 for 20th Century Fox.
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 performer, MacFarlane has sung at several venues, including Carnegie and 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 has been a subject of criticism from television watchdog groups, such as the Parents Television Council, who regularly condemn Family Guy for its indecency. He occasionally speaks at universities and colleges throughout the United States, and is an outspoken supporter of gay rights, atheism, and the legalization of marijuana.
- 1 Early life and career
- 2 Further career
- 3 Guest appearances
- 4 Speaking engagements
- 5 Activism
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Filmography
- 8 Awards
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life and career
Seth MacFarlane was born on October 26, 1973, in Kent, Connecticut. His mother, Ann Perry (née Sager), was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts. His father, Ronald Milton MacFarlane, was also born in Newburyport, and is of Scottish, English and Welsh ancestry, partly by way of Canada. MacFarlane's parents met in 1970 where they both lived and worked in Boston, and were married later that year. The couple moved to Kent, Connecticut in 1972, where Ann Perry began working in the Admissions Office at South Kent School and later in the College Guidance and Admissions Offices at Kent School, where Ronald was also a teacher. 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. 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 were able to find a book on the subject. Four years later, at 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.
MacFarlane received his high school diploma in 1991 from the Kent School, a highly selective college preparatory school, where his mother was employed. While there, MacFarlane continued experimenting with animation, and was given an 8 mm camera by his parents. 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. As a student, he had originally intended to work for The Walt Disney Company, but changed his mind upon graduating. At RISD, MacFarlane created a series of independent films, eventually meeting future Family Guy cast member Mike Henry, whose brother was MacFarlane's classmate. His senior year at RISD, MacFarlane created a thesis film entitled The Life of Larry, which would eventually become the inspiration for Family Guy. MacFarlane's professor submitted his film to the animation studio Hanna-Barbera, where he was later hired.
At Hanna-Barbera, MacFarlane worked as an animator and writer for Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons series. He also worked as a writer and storyboard artist 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 entitled Larry and 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 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 agreement makes him the world's highest paid television writer.
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.
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." In September 2007, Ricky Blitt gave TV.com an interview confirming that he had already started working on the script. 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". 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 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."
Despite its popularity, Family Guy has not been immune to criticism. The Parents Television Council frequently criticizes Family Guy for its content, once organized a letter-writing campaign aimed at removing Family Guy from FOX's lineup, and has filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission alleging that some episodes of the show contained indecent content. 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." 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".
Seth co-created American Dad!, with Matt Weitzman and Mike Barker. American Dad! was first shown after Super Bowl XXXIX as a sneak preview on February 6, 2005. The show began airing regularly on Fox on May 1, 2005. MacFarlane describes the show being similar to All in the Family
American Dad! received its inspiration from President George W. Bush's policies. The show focuses on Stan Smith, a straight-laced CIA officer and fanatical conservative. Stan's wife (Francine) and children, (Hayley and Steve), share a typical middle class home with Roger, an extraterrestrial rescued by Stan from Area 51, and Klaus, a goldfish who hosts the transplanted brain of an East German, 1986 Olympian skier. Seth MacFarlane provides the voices of Stan and Roger, basing Roger's voice on Paul Lynde as he played Uncle Arthur in Bewitched. His sister Rachael MacFarlane provides the voice of Hayley Smith.
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. 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.
After six episodes, the show was officially canceled on May 16, 2007. 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". 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.
The Cleveland Show
Seth MacFarlane has recently developed a 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 has ordered 22 episodes and the series first aired on September 27, 2009. Due to the cancellation of Mike Judge's King of the Hill, the American adaptation of Sit Down, Shut Up being moved to Saturday nights, and the renewal of American Dad!, The Simpsons is now the only cartoon on Fox's "Animation Domination" line-up that was not created by Seth MacFarlane. The show, which was picked up to air a first season consisting of 22 episodes, 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. Due to strong ratings FOX picked up the back 9 episodes of season 2 which would make a 22 episode season and bring the total episode count of the show to 44.
Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy
On September 10, 2008, MacFarlane released a series of webisodes known as Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. These animated shorts were distributed by Burger King and released weekly. The series saw a successful launch with Seth MacFarlane's YouTube Channel, SethComedy, becoming the most watched YouTube channel of the week obtaining over 3 million video views only two days after the first episode (a Super Mario Bros. parody) was released. They have since been released to DVD and Blu-Ray.
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". 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". MacFarlane has also appeared as the engineer Ensign Rivers on the show Star Trek: Enterprise in the third season episode "The Forgotten" and the fourth season episode "Affliction". During 2006, Seth had a role in the short independent film Life is Short. His character is Dr. Ned, a psychologist who advises a short man (played by Freaks and Geeks star Samm Levine) to have relationships with taller women. He is also a frequent guest on the radio talkshow Loveline, hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky.
In Fox's comedy show MADtv on November 11, 2006, MacFarlane appeared and showed 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, Meg jumps out the window in fear. A version with McFarlane 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. MacFarlane served as a host to the Canadian Awards for the Electronic & Animated Arts's Second Annual Elan Awards on February 15, 2008.
MacFarlane has also appeared on news shows and late night television shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Show with David Letterman. 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!" Three months later on March 24, 2007, MacFarlane was interviewed on Fox's Talkshow with Spike Feresten, and closed the show by singing the Frank Sinatra song "You Make Me Feel So Young". 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. On May 8, 2009, MacFarlane was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher.
Other than Family Guy and American Dad!, MacFarlane voices characters in other cartoon shows and movies. He voiced Wayne "The Main Brain" McClain in an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. 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!. In addition, MacFarlane voiced Johann Krauss in the 2008 film Hellboy II: The Golden Army. 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. 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.
On August 1, 2009, MacFarlane performed at The BBC Proms with John Wilson and his orchestra, singing a selection of songs from MGM musicals alongside Kim Criswell, Sarah Fox, Sir Thomas Allen, and Curtis Stigers. Three songs from High Society, Singin' in the Rain, and That's Entertainment were featured. Seth also played in a character named Ziggy in the tooth fairy a 2010 film. In August 2010, MacFarlane appeared as a guest voiceover in a sci-fi themed episode of Disney's Phineas and Ferb entitled Nerds of a Feather. Also in 2010, Seth was roastmaster of the Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff.
MacFarlane is a frequent speaking guest on college campuses. 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. MacFarlane was invited by Harvard University's class of 2006 to deliver the "class day" address on June 7, 2006. He spoke as himself, as Peter Griffin, as Stewie Griffin, and as Glenn Quagmire. He has also delivered speeches at George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Texas, the University of Missouri, University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University and Loyola Marymount University.
Gay rights support
MacFarlane came to support gay rights and gay marriage after a family member wondered aloud whether his gay cousin's homosexuality could be "cured". The incident angered MacFarlane, who said in a 2008 interview in The Advocate, it "was fucking horrifying to hear from somebody that you love." He credits his parents for raising him to be a logical person, in reference to his support for gay rights.
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." MacFarlane went on to wonder, "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?"
2008 Writers Guild of America strike
During the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, MacFarlane publicly sided with the Writers Guild, and fully participated in the strike. 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. Rumors of continued production on Family Guy prompted the statement from MacFarlane that "...it would just be a colossal dick move if they [continued production without his final approval]." The strike ended on February 12, 2008.
MacFarlane identifies himself as a Star Wars, Star Trek and science fiction fan. He appeared at a Star Wars convention to promote his new Family Guy episode "Blue Harvest" on May 26, 2007. He is a skilled pianist and singer who, in his early years, trained with an elderly couple who were Frank Sinatra's vocal coaches. In fact, he signed a record deal with Universal Republic Records and announced that he is recording a big band/standards album. In early 2007, fellow comedian Alex Borstein reported in an interview that MacFarlane is classical in several aspects of his life, in that “his pop culture knowledge is very retro. Seth doesn't have e-mail at home, doesn't own a computer and he doesn't really watch television. He doesn't understand MySpace and despises most new music.”
He is unmarried. In 2004, in an interview with The Daily Princetonian, MacFarlane noted his similarities to Brian on 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".
On July 16, 2010, MacFarlane's mother Perry MacFarlane died, after battling cancer. The 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. 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.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, MacFarlane was scheduled to return to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston, Massachusetts. Suffering from a hangover from the previous night's celebrations, and with an incorrect departure time (8:15 a.m. instead of 7:45 a.m.) from his travel agent, he arrived at Logan International Airport sometime around 7:30 and was unable to board the flight as the gates had been closed. Fifteen minutes after departure, American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked, and at 8:46 a.m. was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, obliterating the airplane and destroying the building.
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.||”|
|1995||The Life of Larry||Larry Cummings
|2006||Life is Short||Dr. Ned|
|2008||Hellboy II: The Golden Army||Johann Kraus|
|2009||Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder||Mars Vegas Singer||Direct-to-DVD release|
|2010||The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!||Intelligent Smart Robotic Animated Eraser Lady||Direct-to-DVD release|
|1995||The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show||Rhode Island Bug||Episode 2.3: "Bugging Out!"|
|1996||Larry & Steve||Larry
|1999–||Family Guy||Peter Griffin
|2002–2003||Gilmore Girls||Bob Merriam
|Episodes 2.21: "Lorelai's Graduation Day" and 3.11: "I Solemnly Swear"|
|2003||Aqua Teen Hunger Force||Wayne the Brain||Episode 2.10: "Super Trivia"|
|The Pitts||Radio voice||Episode 1.3: "Squarewolves"|
|2003–2005||Crank Yankers||Dick Rogers
|Appeared in four episodes|
|2004||Complete Savages||TV Announcer||Episode 1.4: "Nick Kicks Butt"|
|2004–2005||Star Trek: Enterprise||Engineer||Episodes 3.20: "The Forgotten" and 4.15: "Affliction"|
|2005–2009||Robot Chicken||Various characters||Appeared in 15 episodes|
|2005–||American Dad!||Stan Smith
|2006||The War at Home||Hillary's Date||Episode 2.5: "I Wash My Hands of You"|
|2007||Help Me Help You||Seth||Episode 1.13: "Moving On"|
|Robot Chicken: Star Wars||Emperor Palpatine||TV film|
|59th Primetime Emmy Awards||Stewie Griffin
|2008||Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II||Emperor Palpatine
|2008–2010||Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy||Various characters||Appeared in 19 episodes|
|2009||Bones||Stewie Griffin||Episode 4.25: "The Critic in the Cabernet"|
|2009–2010||FlashForward||Agent Jake Curdy
|Episode 1.1: "No More Good Days" and 1.15: "Queen Sacrifice"; uncredited|
|2009–||The Cleveland Show||Tim the Bear
|2010||Phineas and Ferb||Jeff McGarland||Episode 2.33: "Nerds of a Feather"|
|Roast of David Hasselhoff||Himself||Roastmaster of The Roast of David Hasselhoff|
|2000||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.||Stewie Griffin||Family Guy||Won|||
|2002||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Music and Lyrics||Music and lyrics||Family Guy||Won|||
|2006||Annie Award||Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production||Stewie Griffin||Family Guy||Won|||
|2009||Webby Award||Film & Video Person of the Year 2009||—||—||Won|||
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.||Peter Griffin||Family Guy||Nominated|||
|2010||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics||Music and lyrics||Family Guy||Nominated|||
|Teen Choice Award||Choice Animated Series||Creator||Family Guy||Won||—|
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Seth MacFarlane has been out of prep school for eight years, but the headmaster is still on his case. The top administrator of the Kent School is leading a one-man campaign to get advertisers to drop The Family Guy, an animated TV comedy created by MacFarlane, a 1991 Kent alumnus.
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- MacFarlane, Seth. (2009). Inside the Actors Studio. [Television production]. Bravo. "I didn't really take a hard crack at Template:Interp until I was in high school. My parents got me an 8 mm movie camera."
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... They’re literally terrible human beings. I’ve read their newsletter, I’ve visited their website, and they’re just rotten to the core. For an organization that prides itself on Christian values—I mean, I’m an atheist, so what do I know?—they spend their entire day hating people.Cite error: Invalid
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MacFarlane and [Henry] Rollins were chosen because of their popularity with students and prevalence in pop culture.
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- Seth MacFarlane signs record deal
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