We Love TV!
This is just an unofficial fan page, we have no connection
to any shows or networks.
Please click here to vote for our site!
Interview with Steve Callaghan and Rich
Appel from "Family Guy" on FOX 4/28/15
It was wonderful to speak with these guys. We've watched
the show for many years. It was very interesting to hear all
about the upcoming season.
FBC PUBLICITY: Family Guy
April 28, 2015/1:00 p.m. PDT
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by,
and welcome to the Family Guy conference call. At this time,
all participants are in a listen-only mode, and shortly
here, we will conduct a question-and-answer session, and
instructions will be given at that time. (Operator
instructions.) As a reminder, today’s call is being
I’ll now turn it over to your host, Alyssa McGovern, for
some opening remarks. Please go ahead.
Alyssa: Hello and thank you for joining today’s conference
call with executive producers, Steve Callaghan and Rich
Appel, in support of Family Guy. The milestone 250th episode
airs Sunday, May 3rd, at 9:00/8:00 Central on FOX, and the
season finale will air Sunday, May 17th. I will now turn
over the line to Steve and Rich for your questions. Thank
Moderator: (Operator instructions.) We’ll go the line of
Suzanne Lanoue from The TV MegaSite.
Suzanne: Oh, good morning.
Rich: Good morning. Hi.
Suzanne: Hi. Just wanted to let you know, my husband and I
have watched this show since the very beginning.
Rich: We love that. Thank you so much.
Suzanne: Sure. I was wondering, with the 250th coming up, do
the writers do anything special? Do they save special jokes
for it or do they just treat it like any other episode?
Rich: Well, we were hoping that Fox would get us a coffee
card or something to celebrate, but we’re still waiting. So,
honestly, when we were plotting it, and this is Rich
speaking, when we were plotting out the season, we knew,
obviously, which episode would be the 250th, and we had a
couple in mind that we thought would be good ones for it,
not just stories that we thought were funny, but potential,
as in this case, a role for a guest star like Liam Neeson,
and then we waited, honestly, to see how they played to the
table and to see how they came back from the first round of
animation to make sure the episode felt special enough.
The writers do, I mean, to be quite serious, always do their
best for every episode, and if we fall short of our own
standards, that’s our fault, not anyone else’s. But we
wanted to make sure that the episode we slotted into this
position was one we thought turned out great, and we do
think it did turn out really well.
Suzanne: Alright. Thanks very much.
Rich: No followup?
Suzanne: Well, I’ll leave some time for someone else.
Rich: Okay, thanks.
Steve: Thanks for watching.
Moderator: We’ll go next to the line of Joe Hummel of Pop
Culture Madness. Please go ahead.
Joe: Hi, guys. I’m a big fan, too.
Steve: Thanks. Great.
Joe: It’s a pleasure to talk to you. My question’s kind of a
followup. At what point do you say, “Oh, my gosh, it’s
number 250?” and what were both of your initial thoughts to
say, ‘”Oh, well, what can we do?”
Steve: Well, can you ask the question one more time?
Joe: Sure. At what point did you say, “Oh my gosh—” I got
that. At what point did you look at the schedule and say,
“Oh, wow, it is 250?” And for each of you, did you each have
any idea that, “Oh, I want to do this as a special thing,”
or any idea like that?
Steve: This is Steve, by the way. It’s sort of like Rich
said. We just wanted to do something that felt really
special. We write these shows, actually, much farther in
advance than I think most people realize. We do them about a
year ahead of time, so we had all these conversations about
a year ago when it first dawned on us that we were coming up
to this milestone. And so, one advantage of doing it so far
in advance is that it gave us lots of time to plan and sort
of pick a really great episode, and once we had Liam Neeson
on board and once we saw how well the table read had gone
and how well some of the early screenings had gone, we just
thought, this has all the makings of a milestone episode.
Other reason why it seemed so good is that the opening of
the show concerns something called Quagfest, where Quagmire
throws a street fair in commemoration of his 1000th sexual
conquest. So, since Quagmire was having a milestone, it felt
fitting that we use it for our milestone episode.
Rich: And as Steve says, we have to start writing these shows
so far in advance. I believe when we were contemplating what
episode would be our 250th, there were advertisements
congratulating The Simpsons on their 500th, and that keeps
Joe: I guess my followup is this: A lot of people don’t know,
what does a producer do, an executive producer?
Steve: Well, Rich and I are both executives producers and
show runners of the show, which means that we are in charge
of every aspect of the show, really—hiring writers. We
oversee every re-write.
Rich: We determine which snacks are available in the kitchen.
It’s a very powerful position.
Steve: We direct the actors. We do casting, editing, I mean,
just about every part of the process you can imagine,
including picking snacks.
Rich: But I’ll tell you that it’s a question that I always
think people are interested to know the answer to, because
in TV, I used to watch, before I ever became a comedy
writer, shows like The Simpsons, and I would see all
these—story editor, and I thought that meant the person who
approved every single story, and producer was the one who
figured out who to hire the artists and the guys who lock up
And in television, it’s all just different labels for the
hierarchy of writers as you spend more years in the
business, and you start out as a staff writer, story editor,
co-producer, producer, supervising producer. And as you get
up the ranks, the idea being you’re more experienced at
doing all the things that the writers are expected to do,
and then start to take on some additional responsibilities
that might include directing some of the actors or editing
some of the footage, whether it’s an animated show or a
So, the titles with the more senior sounding names just mean
that they’re writers who’ve been around a little longer and
might be expected to do things beyond just writing that
Steve: And I should also say, just to tack on to that, all of
our episodes, and this is the case for most television
comedy, is written very collaboratively. We have a staff of
writers, and every writer contributes to every episode.
Well, Rich and I are the ones who oversee and set. So, Rich
and Seth and I work together to oversee the writing of every
episode. So, though each episode might have a particular
writer’s name on it, that writer wrote the first draft, but
everyone on our staff contributes to all the episodes and
we, sort of, guide that process.
Rich: And I remember when I had written my first episode for
a television comedy, and all these senior, experienced,
hilarious people were pitching jokes for it that were going
in the episode with my name slapped on it, I thought, “I can
Joe: Okay. Thank you for that.
Steve: Thank you.
Rich: Thank you.
Moderator: We’ll go next to the line of Sean Daly with
Sean: Hi there, gentlemen, how are you?
Sean: Nice to speak with you and congratulations on 250, a
milestone that, I suppose, maybe you didn’t even dream about
when the show started out.
Steve: Never in a million years. I actually started on this
show in day one, and lived through all the cancellations and
resurrections, and if you’d told me, my much younger self,
that we’d be celebrating 250 episodes, I would’ve told you
that, I don’t know.
Rich: And I agreed to come when it was an established hit.
Sean: Well, you guys have had a lot of ground that you’ve
covered in 250 episodes, a lot of things that were
controversial, a few things that seemed that they were off
limits. There’s been a clip circulating on the internet,
you’ve probably seen it come back in the last couple of
weeks, where Stewie and Brian are having a conversation
about whether Bruce Jenner is a man or a woman. It’s kind of
topical this week, so I’ll ask you if you could revisit
maybe that particular joke, if you recall it, and if it
takes on any sort of new significance in light of what’s in
the news now.
Rich: I remember a different gag there.
Steve: Here’s the thing. And I’m not saying—it was before I
came to the show, but I can't right off the bat think of the
content—you can describe it to us—but one think I will say,
without any self-consciousness, I watched that interview,
and I was quite—I think like a lot of people—quite surprised
by it and by how moving it was and how sincere and
articulate Bruce Jenner was about his life and the struggles
And I think that in comedy writing, especially for shows
that are “edgy” and try to push the envelope, context
matters. And when something seems to be, and putting Bruce
Jenner to one side, but when a joke seems to be poking fun
at someone’s potential vanity, it’s one thing. When you find
out something about a person that makes you realize if you
make a joke about them, it’s poking fun at some kind of
genuine emotional struggle that has caused a person great
pain, I think many people would say, well, that’s less
funny. And I think over the course of time, as you learn
different things about different people, they become more or
less the subject of comedy.
Look at Hillary Clinton. I think there are things about
Hillary Clinton that will always be the subject of comedy,
and then there are some things you probably wouldn’t go to,
and if something were to happen to someone in her family, I
don’t know if you’d make a joke about the healthcare debacle
that she—so, the reality of what’s going on in the world
definitely does affect, I think, what you target.
Sean: Right. I mean, I’m not trying to pass judgement either
way. I just find it kind of coincidental that the joke has
Stewie saying, “I can’t believe that came out of Bruce
Jenner’s vagina,” and then Brian says, “Bruce Jenner’s a
man,” and then Stewie says, “No, Brian, that’s just what the
press would have you believe. He’s a woman.” So, I don’t
know. I just found it to be kind of topical and thought
maybe you’d have some—
Steve: And that’s interesting.
Sean: Is that a joke that you would remove from future
Steve: We might have that conversation. I don’t know.
Rich: We’re here. I mean, if it’s what you just said, I can't
remember the gag, but what you just said, there’s nothing
about that that strikes me—I don’t know if it seems—you
know, I was concerned that there might be something else
that you would say—I don’t know. But, to me, it’s funny. I
don’t know if, did you watch the interview with Diane
Moderator: I think that Mr. Daly was having some issues with
Rich: Well, I don’t know if anyone else is listening, but I
was just thinking, when I watched that interview, they
interspersed all sorts of clips of late night comedians from
Conan O’Brien to David Letterman, etc., etc., telling Bruce
Jenner jokes, and they take on a different cast in the
context of this heart-rending and heart-felt confessional
conversation. It’s like something ten years ago feels
different than it would feel tomorrow.
Moderator: We’ll go next to the line of Bruno Martins with
Bruno: Yes, hi guys, it’s really good to be talking with you.
It’s a great pleasure. So, I would like to know, it’s a
curiosity, how do you guys keep it fresh and interesting
after 250 episodes? What is the formula that you guys are
going to have for the next 250 episodes?
Steve: Well, I think it’s always a challenge, but we are
blessed to have a very talented staff and crew here, and we
take our job very seriously and, especially so, because we
want to do right by our fans. Those are the fans who brought
our show back from the dead. And so, we just really dedicate
ourselves every day to raising the bar, and I can honestly
say, I feel like the episodes we’re doing now in seasons 12
and 13 are as good, if not better, than ones we’ve done in
Rich: And I think one of the virtues, the many virtues of the
show that Seth created and these characters are you don’t
need to think of an insane redefining storytelling story to
make a great episode of Family Guy, and sometimes, just to
pick one example, one of the writers just said the one line,
“Joe writes a children’s book about a character called The
Hopeful Squirrel,” and it just seemed like such a funny idea
that Joe Swanson would be writing a children’s book and have
created this little cartoonish character.
And we then turned it into a story where Peter takes credit
for it. And once you have the template of what is really a
small story, the reality of the Family Guy universe is such
that it’s such a challenge and an opportunity for these
writers to come up with these hilarious, off-topic bits, or
even on-topic character reactions to these things.
Steve: I think some of our best and most successful episodes
have been ones with actually very simple stories told in a
way that only Family Guy could do. And like Rich said, the
characters are such that we keep finding new layers to them
and new aspects to them, and so I feel like the show still
has many, many more years to go. And I’m excited for all the
story that we have yet to tell.
Rich: A show like Family Guy and The Simpsons, they have the
same burden and the same virtue, which is our characters
never age, and it’s a challenge because at some point you’re
thinking of your 251st story for a man who’s 40. I mean,
there will never be a 50th birthday, certain mid-life crises
stories, but the virtue is that you get to know these
characters so well, and they don’t change in ways that
suddenly—you know, Stewie will never go through an awkward
puberty and turn into a teen star who can't act anymore and
has terrible acne.
Steve: Unless he uses the time machine.
Rich: Right. There’s a real nice certainty that we have this
tremendous character that we know Seth will voice the same
way he always has and that there’s a security in that. We
know the pieces we’re playing with.
Bruno: Just a followup question. Liam is a guest for this 250
milestone episode. Bringing new guests for the show and for
some new episodes is something that we are going to see more
often? It’s something that you guys have been doing for a
lot of years, but it’s something that you are going to start
to see more often?
Steve: I don’t think any more or less often than we’ve done
in the past. It worked out great for this episode being such
a special episode, and we have many, many guest stars
coming. Glenn Close was just here to record for an upcoming
episode. But I think it’s something that we’ll do with about
the same frequency that we’ve been doing it. We like to do
it every now and then, but we don’t think of it as something
that defines our show.
Rich: And in fact, I think, from the head down, Seth’s take
always has been a lot of famous movie stars are terrific
actors, and if they’re right for the role, that’s great, but
he’s always been reluctant to take advantage of someone
who’s famous who might want to do the show to put into the
show. I can't think of an example where that happened.
It’s really—Liam Neeson, obviously, Seth worked with on his
A Million Ways to Die in the West, and is a terrific actor
and a very funny actor, and that’s why we thought let’s
write this part for him. And same thing with Glenn Close; we
wrote Glenn Close in as a character—in fact, an episode that
Steve wrote. So, that’s how she came to the show, and we’d
love to have her back playing someone other than herself.
But it really is if there’s a part that we then think, oh,
that’s perfect for a certain actor out there, that’s how we
would do it, rather than this mega-celebrity wants to do the
show, we’d better figure out a way to write a part.
Bruno: Okay. Thank you very much.
Steve: Thank you.
Rich: Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. We’ll go next to the line of David
Martindale of the Fort Worth Star.
David: Hi, guys. Thanks for doing the call. Given the history
of the Family Guy, the way that you all survived
cancellation and came back stronger than ever, did that
change the way you all approach your work then? Did you ever
start thinking, “Oh, we’re bulletproof; we can handle
cancellation again if it comes on,” or do you just approach
it all the same way?
Steve: No, that’s a great question, but no. I think the
moment you start believing that you’re bulletproof, then
you’re dead in the water. In fact, if anything, I, as I
mentioned before, I’ve been here since the beginning, so I
lived through all the cancellations and resurrections, and I
still am a little bit like a—I have a little PTSD from that,
because I still am not ready to really fully mentally
embrace the fact that people actually know the show and like
the show. It was only about two months ago that I stopped
saying, when people would ask where I worked or what I did,
I used to say, “Well, I work for this show called Family
Guy,” and only recently did people in my life say, “You
don’t have to say that. You can just say—
David: Yes. I know what you mean. One time somebody called me
for an interview and she goes, “My name is Stephanie
Powers,” and I said, “You do not have to say, ‘My name is
Steve: Exact same thing. So, I think it’s healthy to have a
fair dose of humility and anxiety even about the future of
your show. It keeps you on your toes and keeps you working
Rich: Yes, I thought I was bulletproof in my marriage, and
that didn’t work out, so I’ve learned my lesson.
David: Got you. Okay. What stands out for each of you as your
favorite tent-pole moment of the show throughout all of
these? I know I’m asking you to pick your favorite child or
your favorite dog, but a favorite episode, a favorite
storyline, a favorite joke that just still tickles you to
Steve: Oh my gosh, there’s so many. I just love working on
the show, and it’s because there are so many fun moments.
One that comes to mind is our 100th episode, which I thought
was really special, in which— it was called “Stewie Kills
Lois,” and it was a two-part episode, and the second part
was called “Lois Kills Stewie.” I thought we really sort of
went all out with this premise that had been underlying one
of the main characters for so long. That was a fun episode.
“PTV” was a really fun one. Just in terms of sheer
laugh-out-loud gags, there’s an episode—this is from several
seasons ago—but it’s where a few of the characters decide
they’re going to have a contest where they all drink ipecac
to see who can go the longest without vomiting, and it’s
such a rudimentary joke, but I still laugh when I think
Rich: And I would second all of that, and I think to give
credit where credit is due, sometimes for me, and I know for
Steve as well, we struggle with the script pages so many
times, so many different layers from the outline to the
first draft to the draft we read at table, that we know the
words so well, and it’s always those moments when we see
these really talented artists who are our directors who
bring something that we didn’t anticipate, some physical
action. There’s famous bits that are—
Steve: Like Peter with the frog.
Rich: That’s exactly what I was thinking. It was directed
by—God, it will come to me in a second—but directors like
Dom Bianchi and Joe Vaux and Peter Shin, who just—if you
look at the crossover episode we did with The Simpsons that
Peter Shin directed, so much in that seven-minute fight
between Peter and Homer, we scripted a lot of the action,
but then Peter came up with other things. And I think it’s
partly because whatever is new to you and great, rather than
something that you sweat over time and time again, and by
the ninth time you see it, it loses something.
Rich: So, it’s always a treat when you see the things that
the directors bring that you hadn’t anticipated.
David: Okay, cool. Thank you very much.
Steve: Thank you.
Moderator: And we do have time for one more questions. That
will come from the line of Alexandros Romanos of Lizardos.
Please go ahead.
Alexandros: Thank you for giving me the opportunity of asking
some questions. I would like to ask you, after 250 episodes,
do you think that that’s the real time for a movie, for a
real movie, I mean? You know, like Simpsons did it almost
five years ago, so is it a great timing?
Steve: Well, we’ve been wanting to do a movie, a Family Guy
movie, for a long time, and in fact, there’s been a fair
amount of talk about what the story for that movie would be.
There was some, a little bit of work done on it a few years
ago. But the trick of it is, you know, Seth is such an
integral part of everything we do here creatively, vocally,
musically, everything, that he’s at a point right now where
he has a lot on his plate. So, I know it’s something that he
still wants to do and it’s a priority for him, but between
directing movies and recording albums and hosting the Oscars
and a couple of TV shows, it’s tough to find the time to do
So, I think it’s safe to say that it will happen at some
point but probably not imminently. Probably be a few years
before we are able to make that a reality.
Alexandros: I have two more questions. If you could erase an
awkward or unpleasant moment from Family Guy, which one
would that be?
Steve: I’m sorry. Could you repeat it?
Alexandros: Of course. If you could erase an awkward or an
unpleasant moment from Family Guy, which one would that be?
Steve: Getting canceled two times.
Rich: I will tell you this, we’re very lucky that a few of
our writers, including Steve, are funny in the recording
booth, and Seth has cast them. And we have a number of
writers, John Viener, Alec Sulkin—Mike Henry was a writer at
Family Guy, and he does Cleveland—Steve does voices, Danny
Smith. And I have the authority, if I wanted, to cast
myself, but I can’t do it.
So, one time I’d like to erase is when I wrote my first
script. Seth cast me as a significant part at the table
read, and I didn’t want to do it, and I told him I didn’t
want to do it, and I did it poorly, and then I had the
unfortunate circumstance of him awkwardly and embarrassingly
just cutting me from the record schedule, and I thought, I
didn’t want this, I didn’t need this. I knew I would do it
badly. So that’s the one I would erase.
Alexandros: Okay. And I have heard that it takes around $500
to become a secondary character on Game of Thrones. How much
money do you want to make me a character on the TV series?
Steve: Well, you know it’s so funny. Let’s just—$14.
Alexandros: That sounds fine. And I think that we can arrange
that. Thank you, really, so much for your time. It’s really
a TV series which I really, really adore. And thank you so
much for the time.
Steve: Thank you.
Rich: Thank you.
Moderator: And ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude your
conference for today. Thank you for your participation and
using AT&T Executive TeleConference. You may now disconnect.
Steve: Thank you.
Back to the Main Articles
Back to the Main Primetime TV Page
We need more episode guide recap writers, article
writers, MS FrontPage and Web Expression users, graphics designers, and more, so
please email us
if you can help out! More volunteers always
Page updated 5/28/15