Naturally, there were a lot of jokes as Seth MacFarlane accepted a lifetime achievement award from the WGA’s Animation Writers Caucus Thursday at the Writers Guild Theater, but he also offered some serious comments about the guild and the status of writers. “I am a firm advocate of the power of unions,” said MacFarlane. “The WGA and all the guilds remain among the most important powers in this industry as the studios and their parents get more and more monolithic, the necessity of unions like this becomes ever more obvious.”
David Goodman, VP of the WGA West, noted in his intro that MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” and “American Dad” make him the employer with the most writers under the animation contract.
Patrick Stewart followed with a quip-filled presentation, opening by saying, “Oh my God, I’m over-dressed. I never thought I’d be in a room nerdier than a Star Trek convention.”
Stewart voices Avery Bullock on “American Dad” and stars in “Blunt Talk,” which MacFarlane exec produces. He traced back MacFarlane’s history to 1998.
“‘The Simpsons’ was in year three of its record-breaking 19-year-slide,” he recalled. “In an act of blatant desperation, Fox took a chance on a 24-year-old Seth MacFarlane who would eventaully would delivery a dazzling array of shows about bumbling dads, their hot wives and a talking animal.”
Stewart credited MacFarlane with broadening his career: “He changed my life and the world of humor opened up for me in a way it never had before, so I am personally most grateful for that. However, it is a little creepy knowing he has so many dolls of me.”
Stewart concluded on a serious note: “It is his talent as a writer that this award celebrates. Funny pictures will make us look and funny voices will make us laugh, but it is the writing underneath that distinguishes and elevates truly distinguished work.”
MacFarlane said in his acceptance that he’s stunned by the 14-season run of “Family Guy.”
“Never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine it would go this long. We used to get in the room and talk about dating and now it is 100 percent about colonoscopies.”
He also joked about the WGA — “When the guild called me, my first reaction was ‘how late are my dues?'” and “You can tell it’s an animation award because the invitation said black sneaker. I’m not sure who votes but I’ll tell you this trophy is going to be in my car for a long time.”
MacFarlane concluded by crediting those around him. “All I’ve done to deserve this is to surround myself with people who are smarter than me and make me look good and I’ll see you at the next strike.”
About 200 members of the guild attend the ceremonies for the award.