Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011
It's a steamy day in early September and the Family Guy writers and producers are huddled in the lobby of a nondescript third-floor office in Los Angeles. 20th Century Fox TV chairman Gary Newman checks his watch while his partner Dana Walden makes small talk with Fox's Kevin Reilly and Peter Rice. They're all waiting on the man of the hour: Seth MacFarlane, who's 20 minutes late.
"I just called him," says one writer, shoulders shrugging at his boss' perpetual tardiness.
"He's on Seth time," another one quips. Ten more minutes pass before MacFarlane appears, his mop of jet-black hair seemingly unbrushed and uniform polo shirt and jeans wrinkled. He rips a pair of iPhone buds out of his ears, takes a seat at the head of a conference room table and turns to page one of Family Guy's 200th episode script. Unlike the boisterous staff seated before him, MacFarlane seems uncomfortable with the fuss being made of the milestone. With others around the table still cheering, he holds up the 43-page script with a nod that suggests it's time to begin. For the next 15 minutes, MacFarlane transforms into his characters, ping-ponging between a martini-swilling dog and a matricidal baby. As they're whipped through a fictional time machine that has vomit flowing backward, MacFarlane's corporate bosses, now crammed into a row to his right, have let any earlier frustration with his delay give way to wide grins.
How can they not? In an era of fractured viewership and hard-to-come-by hits, MacFarlane, 37, is at the white-hot center of a multibillion-dollar empire, one that continues to deliver younger viewers, hefty syndication revenue and the kind of merchandise studio heads drool over. Not to mention the practical piece: MacFarlane's characters never age. Last year alone, his programming generated nearly $200 million in ad revenue, according to Kantar Media.
To read THR’s complete Seth MacFarlane cover story, click here.