Seth MacFarlane 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 and Dexter’s Laboratory, before creating his own series for 20th Century Fox entitled Family Guy in 1999. MacFarlane would go 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 and 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. He has been a subject of criticism from television watchdog groups, such as the Parents Television Council, who regularly condemn Family Guy for its indecency. He occasionally speaks at universities and colleges throughout the United States, and is an outspoken supporter of gay rights, atheism, and the legalization of marijuana.
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.
As a student at Rhode Island School of Design, he had originally intended to work for The Walt Disney Company, 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.
At Hanna-Barbera, MacFarlane worked as an animator and writer for Cartoon Network’s Cartoon Cartoons series. He also worked as a writer and storyboard artist on Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and Dexter’s Laboratory. 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 contracted MacFarlane to create a series based on the characters, to be called Family Guy. At 24, MacFarlane was television’s youngest executive producer. Fox proposed MacFarlane complete a 15-minute short, giving him a budget of $50,000. MacFarlane stated that the pilot for Family Guy took half a year to create and produce. 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. Bolstered by high DVD sales and established fan loyalty, Family Guy developed into a $1 billion franchise. On May 4, 2008, after approximately two and a half years of negotiations, MacFarlane reached a $100 million agreement with Fox to keep Family Guy and American Dad until 2012. The agreement makes him the world’s highest paid television writer. There are some aspects of the show(s) that I don’t entirely enjoy though. Some of the scenes are repeated way too much and even though funny the first or second time, after the third, fourth, etc. times they do get a bit repetitive.