Seth MacFarlane on Blue Harvest 2

MacFarlane previews Family Guy and The Cleveland Show.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Seth MacFarlane on Blue Harvest 2

Family Guy did not win the Emmy for best comedy but it was still a big deal that it made it into that category with live-action shows. It’s still a good year for Seth MacFarlane though. The spoof of The Empire Strikes Back, a la Blue Harvest, comes out this year with a Return of the Jedi spoof in the works. Also, The Cleveland Show spins off this year and MacFarlane plays a role in the new series Flash Forward. 

Crave Online: Why do you think Family Guy landed a Comedy nomination at the enemies, when The Simpsons never did? 

Seth MacFarlane: I think the only reason The Simpsons hasn’t done it is because of the climate of television that they were up against when they were a contender, when they chose to submit them. I think if The Simpsons had submitted this year, they would have been nominated instead of us, which is why I think they should submit next year. 

Crave Online: What guest stars are coming up this year? 

Seth MacFarlane: Let’s see, Chevy and Dan, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, Rush Limbaugh coming up. Who’s in the season premiere? I hate this question. I always think of everyone way after the fact… Elijah Wood. 

Crave Online: What are Chevy and Dan doing? 

Seth MacFarlane: They’re doing a Spies Like Us homage because I loved that movie when I was a kid and I still love it. So Stewie and Brian wind up in Russia with Dan and Chevy. We’ll work on getting Donna Dixon next time. 

Crave Online: How did you decide that bears would be the next talking animals we’d see on The Cleveland Show? 

Seth MacFarlane: When we were talking about the show, we were sitting in my office, and we were trying to figure out, "How do we do…" I think it's always important to do something that takes advantage of the animation medium.  It's something I learned at Hanna-Barbera, and I think it still is a pretty sound way to operate.  But we wanted to do something different so it wasn't yet another, "Hey, here's the one or two bizarre people living in the house as part of the family."  Wanted to do something a little different.  And it really was as simple as a long beat and then Mike [Henry] just saying, "What about a family of bears?" And it just kind of made us all laugh. 

Crave Online: What accent are you doing as Tim the bear? 

Seth MacFarlane: I don't know. I think my father did that voice when I was a kid or something at some point on the way to the dump. Yeah, it's just sort of a nondescript accent.  It's just kind of a silly voice. 

Crave Online: The Cleveland Show opens with the Griffins sending Cleveland off. Could they ever come to visit? 

Seth MacFarlane: So far, early on, I think the guys are trying to keep it kind of separate.  But, you know, Quagmire shows up initially the first season on The Cleveland Show. The whole Brown family shows up on Family Guy an episode, I think in the spring.  It's not taboo to us. It's just if it feels organic to bring one character into another universe, then we will.  As far as Family Guy, our Return of the Jedi episode that's coming up has characters from all three shows together.  So if it feels organic, the theory is that in this alternate parallel cartoon universe that Quahog and Langley and Stoolbend all kind of exist in the same universe.  So it keeps that door open. 


Crave Online: Is your Empire Strikes Back episode done? 

Seth MacFarlane: We just finished editing it. 

Crave Online: How did it turn out? 

Seth MacFarlane: Great, great. It almost f*cking killed me. It was so much work. 

Crave Online: More than Blue Harvest? 

Seth MacFarlane: Yes, more than Blue Harvest and Jedi will be [the toughest.] It’s just with the CGI, with the complexity of the animation and more than anything with the music. Trying to make the music work in a way that sounds seamless, because you’re working with the original tracks. You can spend an hour on a single edit. It’s kind of brutal. 

Crave Online: What do you have to say about Ewoks and Jabba the hut? 

Seth MacFarlane: Well, Tim the Bear will be playing a bunch of the Ewoks actually. 

Crave Online: How would you say The Cleveland Show is different tonally than Family Guy? 

Seth MacFarlane: You're starting with a character that's more the eye of the hurricane than the hurricane itself, which is kind of unusual for us.  I mean, he's a little nuts in his own right, but he's the one desperately trying to keep it all together.  What you usually see from Marge, from Lois, but in this instance it's Cleveland who is sort of the one who's trying to hold everything down.  So in that sense, I think fundamentally you're going to find a tonal difference in the way the stories play out. 

Crave Online: Do you ever record all the actors together? 

Seth MacFarlane: Any time you can get the actors in the room together, it's good, but most of the time people are doing a million different things.  So you don't really have that luxury but all the shows are pretty careful about if there’s a scene that really depends on that overlapping improvised feel, we do usually make sure to have the actors in the booth together. 

Crave Online: Were you glad they showed reruns of the Sunday line-up opposite the Emmys? 

Seth MacFarlane: Yeah, God, any time they want to air reruns of Family Guy that’s fine with me. It seems like they’re taking advantage of the heat that’s on the show right now because of the nomination. I think that’s a great way to do it. 

Crave Online: How did you end up in Flash Forward? 

Seth MacFarlane: Brannon Braga who’s one of the cocreators of the show called me and asked me if I wanted to do an episode and I said yeah. He’s not only a close friend but I’m a huge fan of his writing. I think he’s probably one of the most talented writers working in Hollywood

Crave Online: What do you play? 

Seth MacFarlane: I’m an FBI agent. 

Crave Online: Does something happen to you? 

Seth MacFarlane: Yes, I get Legionairre’s Disease. Does something happen? No, it’s just a few lines. I’m in the first two episodes. They’re cameos. 

Crave Online: Is it a straight role? 

Seth MacFarlane: Yeah, pretty much. The second one is not so straight but the first one is. 

Crave Online: Were you looking for that as you embark on an acting career? 

Seth MacFarlane: Not actively but if it’s something that is fun and if it’s somebody who’s work I respect like Brannon, then I’m in.