The relationship with 20th Century Fox TV has not been without its ups and downs, but MacFarlane has been loyal to the studio that backed him during the dark days when “Family Guy” was axed after having bounced around Fox’s schedule for three seasons.
MacFarlane’s team is in the midst of negotiating a long-term mega-deal with the studio for his TV work. His most recent overall pact expired in March 2013; at present, he has a one-year deal covering his services on “Family Guy,” “American Dad” and the freshman live-action entry “Dads.”
The fact MacFarlane has gone so long without a long-term pact has raised some eyebrows around town. He’s also shopping a comedy project with Media Rights Capital dubbed “Blunt Talk” from writer Jonathan Ames (“Bored to Death”) that MacFarlane would steer as exec producer. It’s said to be targeting a pay TV home, which would be a first for the multihyphenate.
Nobody’s commenting for the record, but the indications are that MacFarlane intends to stay put at 20th TV. The studio is not involved in “Blunt Talk,” but that could change; 20th TV has branched out into producing for Showtime and HBO in recent years.
Execs at 20th TV admit to having experienced some nervousness a few years ago as MacFarlane’s feature activity expanded. The film side of 20th Century Fox famously passed on MacFarlane’s pitch for “Ted,” a move that is said to have contributed to Tom Rothman’s departure as co-head of Fox Filmed Entertainment.
But MacFarlane has impressed the TV studio chiefs by working overtime to keep up with his TV obligations.
“I’m not sure I would have believed five years ago he would have been capable of managing so many different things at one time. He has people he believes in around him,” says 20th TV chairman-CEO Gary Newman. “He did an amazing job of giving us the time we needed (on the shows) while at the same time doing the movies.”