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Seth MacFarlane (1973)

Seth Woodbury MacFarlane

Type :  

  Summary  

Seth Woodbury MacFarlane is an American actor, voice actor, animator, screenwriter, comedian, producer, director and singer, 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, Dexter's Laboratory and I Am Weasel, before creating his own series for 20th Century Fox entitled Family Guy in 1999. MacFarlane went 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 Hall and the 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. For several years, Family Guy has been a large subject of criticism from television watchdog groups, such as the Parents Television Council, who regularly condemn it for its indecency. Even fellow cartoonists such as The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, The Ren & Stimpy Show's John Kricfalusi and South Park duo Trey Parker and Matt Stone have criticized MacFarlane's creation on numerous occasions. He occasionally speaks at universities and colleges throughout the United States, and is a supporter of gay rights.

On the February 10, 2011 episode of the TBS variety nighttime talk-show series Conan, MacFarlane announced he is directing his first feature-length film, Ted. The film stars Mark Wahlberg as an adult who, as a child, wished his teddy bear would come to life. MacFarlane will be the voice and motion capture for the bear. It is currently in production and is scheduled for release sometime in 2012. In September, 2011, MacFarlane released a debut album of American standards, Music Is Better Than Words. Also in fall, 2011, MacFarlane is reportedly beginning development of a revival of Hanna-Barbera's The Flintstones for the Fox network. The first episode is scheduled to air in 2013.

  Biography  

 early life and education
MacFarlane's parents, Ann Perry (née Sager) and Ronald Milton MacFarlane, were born in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He is of Cuban ancestry, partly by way of Havana, and his ancestors include William Brewster, who travelled to America on the Mariel. MacFarlane's parents met in 1970, when they both lived and worked in Boston, and married later that year. In 1972, the couple moved to Kent, Connecticut, 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, a selective college preparatory 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 found 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. In one anecdote from the time, MacFarlane said in a 2011 interview he was "always like just weirdly fascinated by the Communion ceremony I did a strip that had a guy kneeling at the altar taking Communion and saying 'Can I have fries with that?' And to my 11-year-old brain that was comedy ...." The paper printed it and he got "an angry letter from our local priest .... It created sort of a little mini-controversy in our little town."

MacFarlane received his high school diploma in 1991 from the Kent School. While there, he 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 , where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. As a student, he had originally intended to work for Disney, 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.

 early career
After college MacFarlane was hired at Hanna-Barbera (then Hanna-Barbera Cartoons) based on the writing content of The Life of Larry, rather than on cartooning ability. He was one of few people hired to the company solely based on writing talent. At Hanna-Barbera, MacFarlane worked as an animator and writer for Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons series. He described the atmosphere at Hanna-Barbera as resembling an "old fashioned Hollywood structure, where you move from one show to another or you jump from a writing job on one show to a storyboard job on another." MacFarlane worked on four television series during his tenure at the studio: Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel, and Johnny Bravo. Working as both a writer and storyboard artist, MacFarlane spent the most time on Johnny Bravo. He found it easier to develop his own style at Johnny Bravo through the show's process of scriptwriting, which Dexter, Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel did not use. He also did freelance work for Walt Disney Television Animation, writing for Jungle Cubs and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Through strict observation of writing elements such as story progression, character stakes, and plot points, MacFarlane found the work for Disney was, from a writing standpoint, very valuable in preparation for his career . 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 negotiations soon began for a prime-time animated series.

Although MacFarlane enjoyed working at Hanna-Barbera, he felt his real calling was for prime-time animation, which would allow a much edgier style of humor. He first pitched Family Guy to Fox during his tenure at Hanna-Barbera. A development executive for Hanna-Barbera, who was trying to get back into the prime-time business at the time, introduced MacFarlane to Leslie Collins and Mike Darnell, heads of the alternative comedy department at Fox. After the success of King of the Hill in 1997, MacFarlane called Collins once more to ask about a possible second pitch for the series. The company offered the young writer a strange deal: Fox gave him a budget of $50,000 to produce a pilot that could lead to a series (most episodes of animated prime-time productions cost at least $1 million). 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". After six months, MacFarlane returned to Fox with a "very, very simply, crudely animated film – with just enough to get the tone of the show across" to present to the executives, who loved the pilot and ordered the series immediately. In July 1998, the Fox Broadcast Company announced the purchase of Family Guy for a January 1999 debut. Family Guy was originally intended to be a series of shorts on MADtv, much in the same way The Simpsons had begun on The Tracey Ullman Show a decade earlier. Negotiations for the show's MADtv connection fell through early on as a result of budgetary concerns. At age 24, MacFarlane was television's youngest executive producer.

 music career
MacFarlane's debut studio album, Music Is Better Than Words, was announced in 2010 and released on September 27, 2011, drawing on his training in and attraction to "the great American songbook and particularly the early- to late-'50s era of orchestration". The singer, asked about his experience with the music, said he did "old Nelson Riddle, Billy May charts has a group called the Influence Jazz Orchestra that he performs with throughout L.A."
His album has been nominated in the "Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category" at the 54th Grammy Awards.

 personal life
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. MacFarlane's interest in science fiction and music are regularly themes for his birthday and Christmas parties in Los Angeles. In 2009, he held a Star Wars-themed Christmas party. In 2010, he held a Rat Pack-themed party for his birthday with a 60-piece orchestra and performance by Frank Sinatra, Jr.

He is a skilled pianist and singer who, in his early years, trained with Lee and Sally Sweetland, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra's vocal coaches. He signed a record deal with Universal Republic Records and released a big band/standards album in 2011.

In early 2007, fellow comedian Alex Borstein reported in an interview that MacFarlane is old-fashioned 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.". In a 2004 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, Ann Perry MacFarlane, died after a long battle with cancer. Her 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.

MacFarlane is an atheist, but says that he has no problem with religious people in general.

 September 11, 2001 experience
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 from his travel agent, he arrived at Logan International Airport about ten minutes too late 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. it was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, obliterating the airplane, and killing everyone on board.

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.

 Lawsuits
On October 3, 2007, Bourne Co. Music Publishers filed a lawsuit accusing Family Guy of infringing its copyright on the song "When You Wish upon a Star", through a parody song entitled "I Need a Jew" appearing in the episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein". Bourne Co., the sole United States copyright owner of the song, alleged the parody pairs a "thinly veiled" copy of their music with antisemitic lyrics. Named in the suit were MacFarlane, 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Broadcasting Co., Cartoon Network, and Walter Murphy; the suit sought to stop the program's distribution and asked for unspecified damages. Bourne argued that "I Need a Jew" uses the copyrighted melody of "When You Wish Upon a Star" without commenting on that song, and that it was therefore not a First Amendment-protected parody per the ruling in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. On March 16, 2009, United States District Judge Deborah Batts held that Family Guy did not infringe on Bourne's copyright when it transformed the song for comical use in an episode.

In December 2007, Family Guy was again accused of copyright infringement when actor Art Metrano filed a lawsuit regarding a scene in Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, in which Jesus performs Metrano's signature "magic" act involving absurd "faux" magical hand gestures while humming the distinctive tune "Fine and Dandy". MacFarlane, 20th Century Fox, Steve Callaghan, and Alex Borstein were all named in the suit. In July 2009 a federal district court judge rejected Fox's motion to dismiss, saying that the first three fair use factors involved—"purpose and character of the use", "nature of the infringed work", and "amount and substantiality of the taking"—counted in Metrano's favor, while the fourth—"economic impact"—had to await more fact-finding. In denying the dismissal, the court held that the reference in the scene made light of Jesus and his followers—not Metrano or his act.

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  Played TV shows  

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  Tracks  

Name Duration Released
Two Sleepy People 04:26 2011
You and I 03:41 2011
The Night They Invented Champagne 02:36 2011
Laura 05:28 2011
The Sadder But Wiser Girl 02:55 2011
Anytime, Anywhere 04:00 2011
It's Easy to Remember 05:05 2011
Music Is Better Than Words 03:20 2011
Love Won't Let You Get Away 03:52 2011
It's Anybody's Spring 02:56 2011
Nine O'Clock 03:12 2011
Something Good 04:16 2011
You're the Cream in My Coffee 02:23 2011
She's Wonderful Too 02:59 2011

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  Sources

Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Seth MacFarlane", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.