Tag Archives: MacFarlane’s
The animated project from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane will be delayed, according to The Hollywood Reporter. No announcements have been made on when production will resume. The project has been put on hold to accommodate MacFarlane’s busy schedule. The planned update was originally scheduled to launch next year.
MacFarlane, which produces Family Guy, American Dad! and Family Guy spinoff The Cleveland Show is also working on Fox’s Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, a 13-part documentary series, following in the footsteps of Carl Sagan’s PBS show. His new live-action/CG-animated feature Ted will be released on July 13.
The Flintstones be jointly produced by 20th Television and Warner Bros. Television, which owns the rights to the original Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Dan Palladino (Gilmore Girls) and Kara Vallo (Family Guy) will exec produce along with MacFarlane.
What if we all violently turn against animation between then and now? Or, what if we have an apocalyptic event that puts us back in the Stone Age, sans TV? I guess you just can’t think that way if you’re a mogul. Anyway, if the Mayans turn out to be as wrong as Family Radio, Fox has already secured its most talked-about property of the 2013 season.
Talked-about, because the man at the helm is none other than Seth MacFarlane, creator of ‘Family Guy’ and ‘American Dad.’ The announcement sparked incredulity among TV writers and bloggers last week. After all, ‘The Flintstones‘ is a beloved Hanna-Barbera brand, owned by the highly protective Warner Bros. group. And MacFarlane is … well, he’s not subtle, shall we say. Even fans of MacFarlane point out that all three of his existing sitcoms are basically the same show with different drawings. The really astute commenters note that those three shows are basically versions of ‘The Flintstones’ already — raunchy, tasteless versions of ‘The Flintstones.’
Among the questions raised by this announcement — such as why WB would allow the brand to go to Fox, and why they’d let MacFarlane anywhere near it — is this: Why would MacFarlane want to hide his acerbic light under a stone-aged bushel? Turns out, it’s a lifelong dream.
In my experience, when an artist finally gets the chance to take on some project they’ve been dreaming about since childhood (MacFarlane says Fred Flintstone is the first figure he ever drew), the results are messy. Think of Kevin Costner’s ‘Waterworld’ and David Eick’s ‘Bionic Woman.’ Next fall, we’ll probably be able to add David E. Kelley’s version of ‘Wonder Woman’ to the list.
The problem is when writers and producer enter a project with too much reverence for the source material or the concept; when I studied creative writing in college, one of my profs would harp on about being willing to “kill your darlings” — basically, being able to cut the lines and phrases you like best if it means he piece works better as a whole. It’s much harder than it sounds. How much harder is it when it’s someone else’s darling? If MacFarlane grew up loving Fred, Wilma, Barney and the rest, how difficult will it be for him to apply any new perspective or characterization to them and their world? And if he can’t, what’s the point?
On the other hand, sometimes creative types dream of taking on an established and much-loved brand because they want to change it, because they see the potential for greatness in a flawed original. (I’d put the newer ‘Battlestar Galactica’ in this category.) But when the franchise you want is considered semi-sacred, I say good luck with that. If MacFarlane has secret plans to make radical changes to the brand, he’ll probably find himself stymied. A producer at Fox who is working on the show with MacFarlane has already said the project will be “under the microscope” and that MacFarlane will be “very respectful to the original.”
I’d be of a completely different mind about this if Hanna-Barbera had come to MacFarlane instead of the other way round. Some of the greatest new franchises and stories have come from unlikely partnerships. ‘Lost,’ for example, was basically a log line cooked up by a network executive. J.J. Abrams was hired to flesh it out, and a national obsession was born. J.J.’s own ideas led him to create ‘Undercovers.’ Gore Verbinsky was dragged into the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise a decade into its development, and based on some fond memories of the ride — but not a devotion to it — was able to revive the pirate genre, hire Johnny Depp, and make bazillions of dollars.
I feel bad for MacFarlane; I wonder if he realizes yet that this is a no-win situation. If he pleases his existing fans, he’ll anger WB and ‘Flintstones’ purists (if such people exist). If he pleases these hypothetical purists, he’ll disappoint ‘Family Guy’ fans and probably Fox, who I’m sure are expecting at least some shocking sequences. Either way, come 2013 there will be a whole lot of ink and pixels devoted to reviewing the pilot. I just have my doubts that come 2014, the show will still be on the air.
What do you think about the prospects for MacFarlane’s ‘The Flintstones’?
bit since its 2005 premiere, but it still delivers a fairly dependable audience for Fox’s Sunday night animation block. Last season, it averaged 5.9 million total viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. On Sunday, 4.2 million viewers tuned in, although the
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