Family Guy and The Orville creator Seth MacFarlane is leaving his longtime studio home at 20th Century Fox Television after more than two decades for a giant nine-figure television deal at NBCUniversal Content Studios. No one would comment but I hear the pact is for five years and worth at least $200 million.
NBCU Content Studios, the new business unit encompassing Universal Television, Universal Content Prods. and NBCUniversal International Studios under Bonnie Hammer, is announcing itself in a big way by bringing in MacFarlane, one of the A-list creators on the white-hot overall deal market, as its first major talent deal.
NBCU Content Studios’ UCP and Universal TV each have mega deals on their rosters with the likes of Sam Esmail, Dick Wolf, Mike Schur, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, among others.
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MacFarlane was brought into the NBCU fold through UCP President Dawn Olmstead, with her unit expected to take lead in working with MacFarlane.
I hear 20th TV made a spirited effort to keep MacFarlane at the studio where he had spent his entire TV career so far but was outbid by NBCU which stepped up in a major way.
After creating Family Guy, currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, which has made billions of dollars for 20th TV, and co-creating another successful adult animated series, American Dad!, MacFarlane has focused on passion projects for the past few years, creating and starring in the sci-fi dramedy The Orville, which is relocating from Fox to Hulu for Season 3, and reviving docu/educational series classic Cosmos.
“One of my oldest memories from Fox is of a young Seth MacFarlane hanging out in the halls of the studio,” said Dana Walden, chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment and longtime champion and friend of MacFarlane. “He entertained all of us with his incredible wit and hilarious observations. He is a brilliant artist and a great friend; and, there is no one we root for more than him. As a fan, I look forward to whatever he creates next, and as his studio partner on Family Guy, American Dad and The Orville, I feel lucky to be continuing an extraordinary partnership.”
Under the deal with NBCU Content Studios, MacFarlane and his Fuzzy Door production company will develop and produce TV projects for both NBCU and outside outlets, including NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service, Peacock. I hear MacFarlane, who has a very strong brand, is envisioned as one of the anchors of the new service, which is expected to be a priority for Fuzzy Door’s development efforts. The company is headed by Erica Huggins who is overseeing all content.
As an actor, MacFarlane most recently starred in Showtime’s Golden Globe-nominated limited series The Loudest Voice about Fox News founder Roger Ailes. He portrayed Brian Lewis, Fox News’ former public relations chief. MacFarlane also voices characters on Family Guy and American Dad!, earning five Emmys, all for Family Guy.
The multi-hyphenate MacFarlane has been nominated for six Grammy Awards and has released five studio albums. He is repped by Jackoway Austen and managed by Joy Fehily.
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