It sounds like a revenge plot hatched by “The Simpsons'” Principal Skinner.
But in a stranger-than-fiction twist, the advertiser boycott campaign against Fox’s “Family Guy” is being led by the headmaster of the high school alma mater of “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane.
Richardson Schell, headmaster of the Kent School in MacFarlane’s hometown of Kent, Conn., has launched the Proud Sponsors USA org to lobby advertisers to pull out of “Family Guy,” which has drawn criticism for what some feel are tasteless jokes about sensitive topics.
Schell’s lobbying has convinced at least four “Family Guy” advertisers — including fast food giant KFC and Philip Morris — to yank their coin from the show, according to Fox insiders. But it’s unclear whether Schell has been entirely candid about the source of his ire against the show or his ties to the creator and his family.
MacFarlane graduated from the Kent School in 1991, and his mother worked in various administrative posts at the school for more than 15 years until resigning earlier this year.
The real dispute, sources say, stems from MacFarlane’s decision to use the surname Griffin for the cartoon family in “Family Guy.” Schell is said to have contacted MacFarlane shortly before “Family Guy” bowed in January to ask him to change the name to avoid any association with a real-life Griffin family in Kent.
Schell is said to have had a longtime assistant whose last name is Griffin, but that could not be confirmed. Schell was traveling Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. Reps for Fox and MacFarlane declined to comment on the matter.
While the “Family Guy” boycott may be somewhat bogus, concerns over the show’s content are real. Several critics have blasted the animated skein for including jokes about Adolf Hitler, minority groups and even the assassination of JFK.
Airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. in the fall, “Family Guy” will anchor a night of programs likely to draw fire from culture vultures and sundry pundits.
At 9:30 p.m., Fox has skedded “Action,” a half-hour comedy which skewers Hollywood. The series features dozens of bleeped out, but still decipherable, obscenities, as well as penis jokes and references to “hum jobs.”
Also likely to raise eyebrows is the 8 p.m. drama “Manchester Prep,” a toned-down version of last spring’s pic “Cruel Intentions.” Pilot episode still manages to shock with allusions to incest, secret societies and reckless teen sex.