EXCLUSIVE: The Cleveland Show co-creator/executive producer Rich Appel has signed a new multi-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, which will extend his relationship with the studio to two decades. Under the pact, Appel will take over the reins of 20th TV/Fox’s Family Guy as executive producer/showrunner. Current co-showrunners Mark Hentemann and Steve Callaghan are staying on as executive producers. Appel also will continue in his role as executive producer/showrunner on Family Guy spinoff The Cleveland Show, which is finishing up its order for the current season. Additionally, Appel has a live-action comedy project starring Mandy Moore, which is set up at ABC with penalty.
Appel has called 20th TV home since he was hired as a staff writer on the studio’s animated stalwart The Simpsons in 1994. He has since worked on virtually all of 20th TV’s established animated shows, The Cleveland Show, which he co-created, King Of The Hill, Family Guy and American Dad. On the live-action side, Appel created comedy A.U.S.A. and worked on Bernie Mac and Kitchen Confidential. Appel has been under an overall deal with 20th TV for the past fifteen years. “We really love him; he has been incredibly valuable to the studio,” 20th TV chairman Gary Newman said. “Rich is the consummate showunner, and he also has been available to go on staff — he has no ego about the type of role he plays.” Additionally, “we’ve always believed in Rich’s development,” Newman said. For the past several years, Appel had been busy running The Cleveland Show, marking the current cycle a rare opportunity to develop as production on Cleveland‘s existing order wound down.
Family Guy has a history of changing things up at the top to bring new energy to the veteran animated comedy. Several years ago, Hentemann and Callaghan took over showrunner duties from David Goodman and Chris Sheridan who also continued with the show for years after that. Having experienced top-level writer-producers on Seth MacFarlane’s animated series is important given his growing slate of high-profile extracurricular activities, notably his recent stint hosting Saturday Night Live and his upcoming gig hosting the Academy Awards.