Animation Domination Crossover Event and an Interview with Seth MacFarlane

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A few months ago, members of the media and die hard fanatics of Seth MacFarlane’s shows, got a chance to interview Seth and ask a few questions regarding an upcoming Animation Domination crossover event. The premiere of this Animation Domination Crossover event was scheduled to happen on May 1st, but due a few days after the interview Fox sent out the following statement, stating that Animation Domination crossover event would have to be postponed due to the recent storm events.

Here is the statement from FOX: “In light of the recent storms that have affected the nation, FOX has decided to postpone the crossover episodes of FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD and THE CLEVELAND SHOW that were originally scheduled to air this Sunday.”

So here we are, this Sunday, October 2nd, is FOX’s Animation Domination Crossover Event beginning with The Cleveland Show at 8:30-7:30c continuing with Family Guy at 9:00-8:00c and then concluding with American Dad at 9:30-8:30c on FOX.

While you wait until Sunday, below is the interview with Seth MacFarlane regarding this upcoming crossover event.

Who are your favorite characters to work on as a voice in all the shows you produce, and how did you actually come up with this crossover episode event?

Brian is probably my favorite voice to do because I don’t leave the record booth sweating.  Most of the other characters, such as Stewie and Peter and, particularly, Stan require such a large amount of wind that I often times will need to take a nap after recording a show.

So Brian’s voice gives me a little bit of a break, which is always nice.  The concept of the hurricane trilogy dates back to the theme nights of the 1980’s where you have three sitcoms or four sitcoms in a row and there would be a theme that was kind of interwoven into each one making for a very cohesive, hopefully fun, special night of TV, particularly comedy.

It was something that we discussed that Kevin Reilly brought up to us and said, hey, we haven’t really seen this kind of thing on television in a while it might be kind of cool.  So, we came up with this idea of a hurricane that is kind of blasting its way through all three towns and initially there were talks of doing a crossover with all the characters from all the shows, but it became a little bit of a conundrum because you have three different staffs, each of whom is used to writing three different sets of characters and there is no way to blend them altogether without affecting the other episodes so it was a bit of a challenge.

But this idea of an outside force that sweeps its way through all three shows linking them together seemed like a cool way to accomplish that and it does.

Is it true that it was between Cleveland having a spinoff show and Quagmire; and, if so, What made you choose Cleveland?  Also, are there anymore spinoff shows planned in the future?

Not really.  It was never really a serious discussion to give Quagmire his own show.  Mainly because as a character, Quagmire is much better as an incidental character.  He is much better as a side character.  It allows him to be a little more conscience free, which makes him funnier.  Cleveland had much more obvious potential to be a character who could really sustain his own show.  He was much more dimensional.  He had more heart to him.  He was a guy that you could believably see having a heart moment or solving an ethical dilemma at the end of each episode.

With Quagmire, it would change him too much. I seem to remember people making that observation about Joey when that show came out that the character was just different than he was on Friends and part of that is that you really do have to construct a character in a different way when they are driving a series as opposed to when they are just a side character there; there to deliver jokes, and it would of fundamentally changed Quagmire’s character.

I don’t think people would have responded well to those changes because he is a pretty well liked comedy character as it is, and Cleveland was just much more of a logical choice.

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When animated shows become hits, they tend to last way longer than live-action sitcoms, why do you think that is and does it force or propel you to be more creative with things like crossover episodes, to keep it fresh, in a world where people don’t age?

Yes and the fact that people don’t age and people don’t start looking bloated is part of the reason those shows do continue to do well, I think.  It’s that impossible, but very comfortable imaginary reality, so to speak, of a world, in which things do not change and people stay kind of frozen in time and there is something that I think is kind of appealing about that.

It is a constant and I think that is why the Simpsons have gone on as long as it has. My biggest criticism of animated shows that last extended periods of time, and not just animated shows, I mean all shows, live-action shows is that you do tend to fall into formulaic way of doing things and you tend to stick to safe patterns because the show has become so successful in such a juggernaut depending on what show it is–in some cases, the massive hit like Friends.

You do see shows safely keeping within the confines of a certain way of doing things because it is such a successful franchise that the producers or the network doesn’t want to risk doing anything to shake it up and to me that’s ironically the quickest way to kill a show.  When a show has been on for a really long time and is really doing well and has an audience, I think they want to see change.

[The audience] want to see you shake it up and as producers; it’s really our job to do that.  It’s been a lot of fun doing shows like Brian and Stewie, which is the episode where they’re trapped in a vault for an entire episode and there are no cutaways, no flashbacks, just those two characters.

My philosophy is if it’s something that can potentially ruin the show forever, then it’s probably something we should try.  Shows live and die all the time and better to go out taking some risks than to rest on your laurels and fall into lazy patterns.

Have you ever imagined you would rule Fox primetime the way you have with Family Guy and the others. Also, because of the comedic nature of the shows do you feel like you can get away with a lot of things that other programs may not be able to do? Last but not least, the topic of the day is the President’s birth certificate, will you create a storyline around that?

Probably not, I think the birth certificate issue is something that will very quickly go away and people will find a new ridiculous thing to get all wound up about.  I wouldn’t waste a half hour of TV on something that probably no one is going to be talking about a year from now and obviously it takes us a year to make these episodes so it would be a bit of a risk.

As far as dominating the network, I’m certainly not the first guy to do this.  Norman Lear has had about a hundred more shows on the air than I have in any given time.  Dick Wolf has done it.  There are a lot of guys who have dominated much more of the landscape than I have.  I think the fact that they’re all clustered together on the same night is a good thing.  You know, blocks of television programming generally work the best when there is cohesion of tone.

I think even back to the days of “Must See TV” on NBC those shows all felt like they belonged in the same universe.  They felt like they belonged together on the same night and you know that’s something that Sunday night has going for it, but as far as dominating the network, I think that is probably an exaggeration, but I certainly appreciate it.

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