- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 7, 2006

‘Guy,’ ‘Dad’ back on Fox

No one gets away with more on network television than Seth MacFarlane, creator of two of TV’s most subversive shows — the animated series “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” both seen on Fox.

It’s an impressive accomplishment for someone who’s just 31 and whose flagship show (“Family Guy”) was once canceled.

The fifth season of “Guy” — its second since Fox brought the series back from the dead — starts Sunday night at 9 and is preceded by the second-season premiere of “Dad” at 8:30. Both shows focus on the home lives of not-quite-average families. In “Family Guy,” Peter Griffin is a dimwitted misogynist married to the intelligent Lois. Griffin also is dwarfed in brainpower by the devious baby Stewie and the family dog, Brian.

In a phone interview, Mr. MacFarlane says his network is supportive of “Guy’s” wicked humor, which he thinks is more acceptable in an animated show. “We have a very good relationship with the broadcast standards people,” he says. “They’re mindful that the show needs to be kept at a certain level of edginess to retain its audience.”

Keeping that level is getting harder each year, though, “because the country is going crazy,” Mr. MacFarlane explains. “It’s the result of the tightening of the fist of the FCC. Lots of restrictions didn’t exist five years ago.”

He dismisses suggestions that stricter FCC rules mirror changes in the culture: “If it was the social climate, people wouldn’t be watching the show.”

He also thinks it’s a shame that the same rules apply to every program, no matter its target audience. “People watching ‘7th Heaven’ are not watching ‘Family Guy,’” Mr. MacFarlane says.

The “American Dad” is Stan Smith, a CIA agent based just outside the Beltway. Mr. MacFarlane — who says “All in the Family’s” Archie Bunker was his model for Stan — chuckles when asked about the show’s many conservative fans who don’t realize it’s a satire. “That was the brilliance of Archie Bunker — the left recognized it was satire; the right thought he was their mouthpiece,” he says.

“People think I’m a die-hard Republican, but if they get something out of it, then God bless ‘em.”

This season, “Guy” will feature cameo appearances by some well-known names, including comedian David Cross (“Arrested Development”) as a Christian abstinence promoter, Ricardo Montalban (“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” “Fantasy Island”) as a cow, and MSNBC newsman Keith Olbermann. Drew Barrymore will appear in about two-thirds of the new season as the girlfriend of the martini-quaffing dog Brian. Loyal fans will remember that Miss Barrymore appeared on the show before, as Chris’ teacher in a “To Die For” plot.

There also will be an hourlong “Star Wars” episode, which Mr. MacFarlane describes as a “Star Wars”-meets-“Airplane!” spoof. Also, those who remember Gene Kelly in “Anchors Away” will be surprised to see Jerry the mouse replaced as Mr. Kelly’s dancing partner by the evil baby Stewie.

Mr. MacFarlane is at work on his first live-action show for Fox, “The Winner.” He has a heavy work schedule. Besides serving as executive producer on both animated shows, he voices Peter, Stewie and Brian on “Family Guy” and Stan and Roger on “American Dad.”

When asked if he ever busts out with Stewie’s British bombast in real life, he laughs. “At some point I might, if I keep working this hard.”

Report: Cooper with CIA

Anderson Cooper has long traded on his biography, carving a niche for himself as the most human of news anchors. But there’s one aspect of his past that the silver-haired CNN star has never made public: the months he spent training for a career with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Following his sophomore and junior years at Yale — a well-known recruiting ground for the CIA — Mr. Cooper spent his summers interning at the agency’s monolithic headquarters in Langley in a program for students interested in intelligence work. His involvement with the agency ended there, and he chose not to pursue a job with the CIA after graduation, according to a CNN spokeswoman, who confirmed details of Mr. Cooper’s CIA involvement to Radar magazine.

According to the spokeswoman, Mr. Cooper told his bosses at CNN about his time with the agency.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and wire reports.

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