A ‘Family’ gathering

He’s a man of a 1,000 voices – or a handful of really good ones, anyway. “Family Guy” creator and voice actor Seth MacFarlane is scraping whatever is left of his vocal cords to finish off the remaining episodes of the on-again-off-again animated series. He’s pulling double duty these days, voicing principle characters for his new series “American Dad” as well. In a recent interview with college reporters, MacFarlane, and special guests Quagmire and Stewie, took time out to discuss the new “Family Guy” season and the new series.

MacFarlane said that even if the new “Family Guy” season is not that successful on Fox, “it could continue to have a life on Cartoon Network. For the fans, in order to give them exactly the same show, it ideally has to be on a network. The show originated, on Fox. So to me, it’s a restoration to its original form.”

MacFarlane described how the Federal Communications Commission has put on pressure to tone down the show’s racier elements. “I have felt a very clear sense from the broadcast standards department that they are doing their best to help us keep the show the same as it has been,” he said.

MacFarlane said some of the outrageous content, namely toilet humor and sex jokes, results from no more than a fatigued writing staff. “Often times you’ll find later in the season, we get more tired. (Our) brains are just fried. ”

But much of the show’s material comes directly from MacFarlane’s own life. He said his Scottish heritage is why he “picks on the Irish” and the characters came from voices he developed over the years. “The Peter dialect was something that I learned by listening to the security guards where I went to college in Rhode Island. And Stewie obviously came out of a Rex Harrison impression.”

MacFarlane said that initially, Quagmire’s personality was never fully defined. “He was kind of this guy just spouting 1950s phrases like ‘Hey, that’s all polka dots and moonbeams’ and it was kind of shallow,” he said. “There’s a scene where Quagmire’s in bed with a woman and he’s got his robe on and they’ve obviously finished up and she says ‘Glen, I have a question for you. What did you say you do for a living?’ And he says (voicing Quagmire) ‘Hey, I have a question for you too. Why are you still here?’ And it’s that kind of nasty remark that sort of instantly defined who this character was, this unredeemable sex hound. People have responded to that character nonetheless.”

MacFarlane also discussed his new show, “American Dad,” and said that it will feature different kinds of humor. The series debuted in February, after the Super Bowl. “You don’t want to do the same show twice. I don’t know that you’re going to see exactly the same types of visual jokes that you see on ‘Family Guy.'”

“Right now I think it’s the right time to make a show like ‘American Dad,'” he said, adding that he and other creators made a conscious effort “not to come off like liberals. We were pretty careful to satirize both extremes. There’s the knee-jerk flag waving personality of Stan and the Hailey personality which will burst into applause if Bill Maher even sneezes.”

Unlike his liberal creator, MacFarlane said Stewie probably looks up to President Bush. “Stewie’s got his own plans of world domination. He probably looks at Bush as an inspiration, but that’s Stewie. That’s not me.”

MacFarlane left with these parting words: “We’re working seven days a week and we’re trying to make these things good. Hopefully everyone enjoys them … That’s not very inspirational, is it?”

“Family Guy” and “American Dad” premiere Sunday, May 1 at 9 and 9:30 on Fox.

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