Prod'n on toon stall as talks continue

Twentieth Century Fox TV has delayed the start of production on the sixth season of animated smash “Family Guy,” as talks for a new overall deal with creator Seth MacFarlane drag on.

Production on the show’s sixth season was scheduled to begin on Monday, but the staff was told not to report to work. By holding up work on the show, insiders said 20th hoped to push along negotiations, which have progressed slowly over the past year. Studio also didn’t want to start production now, only to stop later if for some reason a deal with MacFarlane isn’t completed.

MacFarlane’s existing deal with 20th still has several more months to go before it expires.

MacFarlane stands to score a mega payday from 20th under the new pact, given the success of “Family Guy” and his other Fox creation, “American Dad.” He’s exec producer of both shows, and voices the main characters. He’s also behind the upcoming live-action Fox laffer “The Winner” (along with Ricky Blitt).

Both sides stress that conversations remain courteous, and a deal is still expected to be finalized in the coming weeks; compensation appears to be the chief sticking point. MacFarlane is repped by Endeavor and attorney Jim Jackoway.Due to the long lead time necessary for animated shows, production on the 2007-08 episodes is scheduled to begin now, likely motivating both sides to come to terms on those remaining deal points.

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