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Seth GreenSeth Green and the Family Guy cast invade Montreal
Monday 2 August 2004, by cally
Family Guy planning DVD movie, musical CD as show returns to prime time
MONTREAL (CP) - The Family Guy is experiencing a motherlode of attention.
New episodes of the resurrected cartoon sitcom are scheduled for next spring on Fox. Fans are snapping up a new DVD collection. A special, movie-length DVD is in the works. Even a music CD of satirical songs - Family Guy Live in Vegas - is poised for release in November.
"It’s not actually recorded live in Vegas but hopefully you won’t notice that," noted Seth MacFarlane, creator of the show and the robust voice of Peter Griffin, the crude, dense yet hilarious patriarch on the show.
MacFarlane and the rest of the Family Guy’s cast were in Montreal to do a live reading of one of the show’s scripts at the Just for Laughs comedy festival, which ended Sunday.
Family Guy chronicles the misadventures of Griffin, his long-suffering wife Lois, daughter Meg, thick-as-a-brick son Chris, erudite yet homicidal toddler Stewie and talking dog Brian.
MacFarlane takes pride in the show’s edgy quality, which often goes beyond such envelope-pushing fare as The Simpsons.
"You really are allowed to get away with a lot more than you do in a live action show," said MacFarlane, a fan of such shows as the Honeymooners and the Flintstones. He credited The Simpsons with "re-opening the door" for shows like Family Guy.
Alex Borstein, who voices Lois, said much of Family Guy’s popularity is because it’s an "equal-opportunity offender."
"A lot of the time there are some interesting social and political issues that we are tackling through these jokes," she said. "I think we are all pretty proud that we are getting our two cents in while still getting a laugh."
The cast is tight-lipped about the new episodes but MacFarlane allowed that "one of the characters may appear on a reality series" and said Drew Barrymore will appear on the first episode.
"Even her cartoon character is hot," said Borstein.
Family Guy had been killed by Fox after being shuffled around the schedule only to end up in a lethal competition with Friends. Family Guy lost.
But solid ratings for the show on the Cartoon Network and fans snapping up DVD collections of episodes caused the network to reconsider.
"For a network executive to admit a mistake is pretty cool," MacFarlane said.
All the cast members expressed their surprise at the support and dedication of the show’s fans, who they said are the reason the show is back.
"It’s not just some executive making a decision," Borstein said. "It’s because people loved it so much that they went out and spent their money on those DVDs."
She added jokingly: "Not that I want to share my salary with the fans . . . but maybe I should."
Besides MacFarlane, who has won an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance, and Borstein, who is known as well for her work on MAD TV, the cast includes Mila Kunis of That 70s Show and Seth Green, a fan favourite for his performances as Oz on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scott Evil in the Austin Powers films.
Green said he based the voice of Chris Griffin on that of the Buffalo Bill serial killer character in The Silence of the Lambs.
Green said he and a friend used to kid around using a variation of the voice and he decided to use it when he was called in for the Family Guy audition.
"The voice just became more foolish and outrageous," he said, noting there’s "not much" of the loutish Chris in him.
"I’m sure there’s something deep down but the character’s so silly. I let him be as silly and foolish as they allow."
But Borstein said she puts a lot of herself in Lois. In fact, her ad-libbing the character and providing input about her is what got her a writing gig on the show.
"I can kind of live vicariously through Lois," said Borstein, who can also be seen in the newly released Catwoman film. "I think she’s a little more stable than I am. The fun thing is that she’s a doting mom and a doting wife but she’s got this dark side and this wonderful wild streak."
MacFarlane said his characters - among others, he voices Peter, Brian and Stewie - are drawn from a variety of sources.
"Peter is essentially a mish-mash of big loud New England guys that I knew growing up and Brian seemed like he’d be a good complement to that voice. Stewie is actually from Rex Harrison, the character actor from the ’50s and ’60s."
MacFarlane also has a new series coming to Fox in the fall called American Dad, a cartoon about a low-level CIA operative, which will premiere after the Super Bowl.
Green pointed out it’s a plum spot for a debut.
"You may have heard a little-known singer named Janet Jackson really made a splash last year, got a lot of attention, sold a couple of records as a result? Super Bowl - pretty big deal."