Seth MacFarlane, the creator, writer, actor, and producer behind Family Guy and American Dad!, has become the latest tv creator to sign a nine-figure deal — in this case, with NBCUniversal. Here are the details.
- As part of the deal, MacFarlane and his company Fuzzy Door Productions will develop tv projects for NBCUniversal Content Studios, the product of a recent centralization of NBCUniversal’s tv studio operations. According to sources, the deal is for five years and worth around $200 million.
- The projects will be for both internal and outside networks, including NBCUniversal’s forthcoming streaming service Peacock, which is anticipated to launch in April. MacFarlane and his company will work for both Universal Content Productions (UCP), which is focused on cable and streaming, and the broadcast-centric Universal Television, which together form NBCUniversal Content Studios. The division is overseen by Bonnie Hammer as chairman.
- According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), “Sources say [MacFarlane is] interested in starring in and producing musicals, political dramas, and anthologies around historic events in addition to working on new animated projects.” However, the trade paper states that none of the shows MacFarlane is developing at this moment are animated.
- THR’s sources add that MacFarlane discussed a possible deal with various major studios before signing with NBCUniversal. Disney, the sources say, “bowed out after hearing MacFarlane’s initial $40 million annual figure and rumblings that [he] did not want to do another animated show.”
- MacFarlane is closely associated with 20th Century Fox Television, where he had been since the creation of Family Guy in 1999. His contract with Fox expired in June, although he is apparently free, under the terms of his new deal, to continue working on existing shows — Family Guy, American Dad!, and live-action dramedy The Orville — with Disney (which now owns them).
- While at Fox, MacFarlane was vocal in his criticism of Fox News, tweeting in 2018 that their coverage “makes me embarrassed to work for this company.” However, when Disney acquired 20th Century Fox Television and other Fox entertainment assets last year, Fox News was spun off, along with other assets Disney didn’t buy, into Fox Corporation. As such, the divisions no longer belong to the same company.
- Under the NBCUniversal deal, MacFarlane and Fuzzy Door Productions also remain free when it comes to film production. Their last three features, the two hybrid Ted films and the live-action A Million Ways to Die in the West, as well as their forthcoming Fairy Tale Ending, have all been produced by Universal Pictures, the film division of NBCUniversal.
- In a statement, Hammer said: “Seth’s voice resonates across multiple demographics and mediums. We all admire his ability to create audacious commentary with bold, yet relatable, humor and I look forward to working with him behind and in front of the camera.”
- MacFarlane added, “I am extremely honored to be partnering with [UCP president] Dawn Olmstead and the entire UCP team. My relationship with Universal predates this new chapter, and if my experience producing television with UCP is anything like the experience I’ve had producing films with the company, it will be an exciting and creatively fulfilling one for me and for Fuzzy Door. I’m especially inspired by all of the opportunities that NBCUniversal Content Studios has to offer with George [Cheeks, vice-chairman of NBCUniversal Content who resigned yesterday] and Bonnie at the helm. I will remain indebted to my good friend Dana Walden and the team at 20th for their collaborative partnership over the years, and I look forward to our continued work together on Family Guy, American Dad!, and The Orville.“
(Image at top via Shutterstock.)