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By Suzanne

 

Family Guy and Next Gen cast on transporter

David A. Goodman


Interview with David Goodman of "Family Guy"

This week, the cast from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" will be appearing as themselves on "Family Guy", on the episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven". The family goes to a "Star Trek" convention, but Stewie gets upset when he doesn't get to ask the cast any questions, so he builds a transporter and beams them to his bedroom so they can spend the day in Quahog. A subplot involves Meg finding religion, and how she and Brian argue about it, since Brian is an atheist. Both plots sound hilarious to me, since I am both a "Star Trek" fan and an atheist. My husband and I love Family Guy and have watched every episode since the beginning. He doesn't watch much on TV besides news and sports, but he always makes sure to watch "Family Guy" and even sometimes watches it in reruns.

We had a conference call today with David Goodman, show runner and executive producer of "Family Guy". First, I want to say that he was very nice and jovial. A good sense of humor is to be expected from someone who helps write the show, but he was very funny and genial. He definitely has a good time. Maybe he was high, I don't know (no, just kidding). Anyway, it was great to speak with him, and I even got to ask more questions than usual, so I was very happy.

I will post the transcript when they send it, so you can see all of the great questions and answers. Both Goodman and creator Seth McFarlane worked on "Enterprise" and are big scifi fans and Trekkies. Anyone who watches "Family Guy" could probably have guessed that by the many scifi shows on the show already. They did a big "Star Wars" spoof episode that was great, and they have already made an "Empire Strikes Back" sequel episode and are planning a "Return of the Jedi" one as well. Goodman was asked if they planned to do any "Terminator" episodes or any future "Star Trek" episodes involving the other Trek casts, but none are planned so far. Given their "Enterprise" connection, though, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Captain Archer and the others, at least, turned up on occasion.

Goodman shared with us that one scene at the convention has two fans discussing a Star Trek conundrum that has been discussed by him and other fans in real life. When Scotty appears on Next Gen, which takes place a century or two after the original Star Trek, having been caught in a transporter beam, he asks if Captain Kirk has come to rescue him. A few years later, they did the movie "Star Trek: Generations", where Kirk is killed, and Scotty is there to mourn him. Of course, they didn't know when they wrote that Next Gen episode that they would be killing off Kirk, but one has to wonder why they would make that movie, knowing that they would invalidate something that happened in the Trek episode (not that inconsistencies and contradictions are hard to find in Trek, but this one is pretty big). At any rate, Goodman provides a theory to explain it in the "Family Guy" episode.

One of the interviewers told Goodman that he likes the giant fighting yellow chicken and hopes they bring him back. I told Goodman that we did not like the chicken or any gag that goes on for too long. Not that my opinion matters, of course. He laughed and said, "Good to know". That was a very classy way to handle a complaint, but I did laugh when I said my comment, so that is why he took it in the good-natured spirit in which it was intended.  He handled the questions very diplomatically, including one that I thought was kind of dumb.

Goodman also clued us in that the Next Gen cast were very fun to work with and really got into their roles on the show. They were very open to being made fun of and enjoyed the whole process. The "Family Guy" staff were glad to meet with them, although most of the actors had already been on the show previously, and some got their pictures taken with them. The cast came in separately, due to their busy schedules, and Patrick Stewart had to literally phone his in from London. Goodman noted that some actors don't like playing themselves or don't like being made fun of, but this cast was game for everything. He admitted that there was a particular joke about Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), and now I am dying to know what that is. He said that Next Gen fans would know it immediately, so probably it has to do with her death via oil slick (well, a creature that looked like an oil slick, anyway). He also told us that Wil Wheaton (Wesley) stayed for hours after his taping to chat with the "Family Guy" writers and to ask them questions. Anyone who has met Wheaton or reads his blog will not be surprised by this, either, he's an admitted "big geek" (So am I, obviously).

I am really looking forward to this episode, and I hope all "Family Guy" and "Star Trek" fans get to see it. It sounds great.

Here are some links to articles about the episode.

http://trekweb.com/articles/2009/03/12/First-Image-and-Synopsis-of-Family-Guy-Episode-Featuring-TNG-Cast.shtml
http://www.trektoday.com/content/2009/03/family-guy-the-next-generation-photo-released.html
http://tv.ign.com/articles/962/962465p1.html
http://www.scifiheaven.net/index.php/2009/02/26/family-guy-meets-the-next-generation/
http://www.thrfeed.com/2009/02/star-trek-next-generation-family-guy.html
http://www.movieweb.com/news/NE4c968bwdvX6b

Here's David Goodman's official FOX bio

DAVID A. GOODMAN
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0329047/

(Executive Producer/Show-Runner, FAMILY GUY)
David A. Goodman began his writing career as a story editor on the popular sitcom "The Golden Girls." He went on to write and produce numerous shows, including "Wings," "Dream On," "Rhythm & Blues" and "Flying Blind." Additionally, Goodman co-created and executive-produced "Team Knight Rider." He also served as supervising producer for "Stark Raving Mad" and as co-executive producer of the animated "Futurama."

Before coming to FAMILY GUY as executive producer and show-runner, Goodman
was a consulting producer on "Star Trek: Enterprise." Goodman lives in Pacific Palisades, CA, with his family.

Press Release:

STEWIE'S A DIE-HARD "TREKKIE" ON AN ALL-NEW "FAMILY GUY"

SUNDAY, MARCH 29, ON FOX

Cast Members of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Make Guest Voice
Appearances

The Griffin family heads to the annual Quahog "Star Trek" convention, but Stewie blows a fuse when he doesn't get a chance to ask his favorite "Star Trek: The Next Generation" cast members any questions. He devises a plan, builds a transporter and beams the entire cast to his bedroom so they can spend a fun-filled day together in Quahog in the "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, March 29 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Transcript!

FBC PUBLICITY: Family Guy Conference Call with David Goodman
March 24, 2009/10:00 a.m. PDT
SPEAKERS
David Goodman

PRESENTATION

Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Family Guy conference call with David Goodman. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session. Instructions will be given at that time. As a reminder, todayís call is being recorded. Starting off we have Tracy Raftery, please go ahead.

T. Raftery Good morning. Thanks, everyone, for joining our conference call this morning. We have David Goodman on the phone. Heís the Ö and executive producer of Family Guy. Heís here to talk about this upcoming episode of Family Guy airing this weekend called ďNot All Dogs Go to Heaven.Ē Itís a special episode with guest voices from the cast of Star Trek, the Next Generation. So we can open it up for questions and get started.

Moderator The first question is from Carrie Borzillo-Vren of E Online. Please go ahead.

C. Borzillo-Vren Iím so excited for this episode.

D. Goodman As are we.

C. Borzillo-Vren Tell us what your favorite scene in the whole episode is.

D. Goodman Well, thatís interesting. I think probably my favorite scene is the one that Iím in. Iím a huge Star Trek fan, so the artists do a version of me and then I voice the character dressed as a Star Trek, some might say fan, some might say geek, and asking a question at the convention. And then I have a little bit of a run-in later with Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes, so thatís probably my favorite scene.

C. Borzillo-Vren Is there a best line of dialogue in it?

D. Goodman Best line of dialogue, actually to me the best line of dialogue in the whole episode is what Stewie says to the cast at the end of the episode, and Iím not going to give it away, but his attitude towards the cast, he didnít get to ask his question at the Star Trek conventions, so he kidnaps all of them and he has a little bit of journey with them. His final words to them, I think, are very funny, but Iím not going to give them away.

C. Borzillo-Vren I know youíre here to talk about the Trekkie episode, but can you say anything about the Bones crossover episode because weíre dying for that one, too?

D. Goodman Well, the Bones crossover episode is Bones, thatís their episode. I think youíd probably have to talk to Hart and Steve Nathan over there. But we were really thrilled that they wanted to do something with us. Itís a fun couple of scenes and Iím not giving away their secrets, but you should get them on the phone. We were really thrilled to do it and I think itís a fun scene that we did with them.

Moderator Next question is from the line of Troy Rogers from Deadbolt.com. Please go ahead.

T. Rogers Thanks for taking the time. I was just wondering why do an episode with The Next Generation cast now? Is it sort of a tie-in to the film or no?

D. Goodman That was actually the intention. Actually, you could ask last week why did we do a Back to the Future reference when the movie is 30 years old. I think weíre fans, especially Seth and I are huge fans of Star Trek and we realize that although there had been plenty of episodic television that brought back the cast of the original series, there, in fact, had not been, in fact, I wrote one of them for Futurama, ďWhere No Fan Has Gone Before,Ē where we reunited the original cast.

But Seth and I realized that nobody had really reunited the Next Generation cast and many of them had already appeared on our show. Next Generation was a hugely popular show in its day, I think they got 10 million or 12 million a week, I think we only get like 8 million, so it was a popular show. We make references toóweíre not necessarily going to reference the most current, although we do that. Our stock and trade is our own memories of shows we watched when we were younger. Does that answer your question?

T. Rogers Yes. I also know you guys did Blue Harvest, which was awesome, by the way and now you did Star Trek. Is there any talk of doing something about Terminator?

D. Goodman Weíve done occasional sort of Terminator gags. We got one, I think, coming up. But, no, our big movie things coming, we did The Empire Strikes Back. We did, eventually down the road, thatís just gone into production is Return of the Jedi, so weíre doing all three of the Star Wars films and then we occasionally do movie parodies within the course of an episode, we have a episode thatís very reminiscent of Tootsie coming up next year, but no plans at the moment to do the Terminator.

T. Rogers And just a quick favor, can you do some more Facts of Life references?

D. Goodman Sure. Itís a favorite show of Sethís and I think eventually youíll be seeing some more Facts of Life coverage. Although weíve done two or three at least, right?

T. Rogers Yes, I just love all the Ď80s references. Thatís all I have for you. Thanks a lot.

Moderator Next question is from the line of Suzanne Lanoue of TV Mega-Site. Please go ahead.

S. Lanoue My husband and I watch Family Guy religiously every week. He doesnít watch too many fiction shows. Itís one of his favorites. Heíll even watch it in reruns and Ö and Iím like, ďYouíve already seen that one.Ē

My question is, the title is ďAll Dogs Go to Heaven.Ē Does Brian have a particularly large role in this episode?

D. Goodman Thereís two stories going on in the episode. One story involves Meg and Brian. Meg finds God and she finds religion and is giving Brian a hard time for his atheism. So thatís one story. When we developed that story, we sort of saw that Stewie didnít have a big role to play in that story, so we then also developed a story to go with it. And the two stories tie together at the beginning when the family goes to the Star Trek convention and Stewie doesnít get to get his question answered, so he finds plans for a transporter and beams the cast into his room.

But the other story thatís going on is Meg and Brian and itís them finding religion and itís a subject weíve done before in different ways, but this one has a new twist on it. We were struck by the fact that in America atheism is considered worse by some people than Muslim extremism so that was an interesting subject for us, we thought. And weíve always said Brian is an atheist, so it seemed a natural.

S. Lanoue Also, I was going to ask you, when the Star Trek, the Next Generation actorsí voice on the show, do they come over more as themselves or as their characters on Star Trek?

D. Goodman Theyíre playing themselves. All the characters are playing themselves. Although I will say that we definitelyóthey were all very game. We had fun playing with who they really are and that Stewie discovers what itís like to hang out with them. Itís a different Family Guy twist on your expectations, so Iím very pleased with the surprises in the episode in terms of the journey that Stewie takes with these people.

S. Lanoue Thank you, we really look forward to it.

Moderator Our next question is from the line Bill Harris, Sun Media. Please go ahead.

B. Harris Iím wondering what is it about science fiction, I guess, generally that on the one hand inspires such incredible devotion among its fan base and yet, it seems to be so open for mockery from gentlemen such as yourselves who even though theyíre fans, can also really enjoy openly mocking it? What is it about sci-fi that makes it so easy to mock?

D. Goodman I think itís easy to mock things that take themselves too seriously. I think again, Star Trek, itís both wonderful and pompous at the same time. I really am a die-hard Trekkie, but there are moments in Star Trek where it takes itself very seriously. And so I canít answer the first question. If I could, Iíd be a lot more successful than I am. What is it about something Ė people said that Star Trek projects a positive theme of the future and thatís why people, I donít know if thatís the reason, but I do know that itís always easy to make fun of something that takes itself seriously. And in fact, those shows, any kind of science fiction show where you have somebody in makeup playing an alien, thatís going to be easy to make fun of, even if itís done perfectly.

B. Harris I understand what youíre saying. Last thing, speaking of being pompous, any chance of a Battlestar Galactica episode in the future?

D. Goodman I donít know if weíd do a whole episode, but there may be a gag.

Moderator Our next question is from Ian Spelling of SciFi.com. Please go ahead.

I. Spelling Thanks for doing the call. We appreciate it. How hard or easy was it to get the cast all to sign on and to beam aboard for this thing?

D. Goodman They were wonderful. Many of them had already done the show. I think we had, Patrick Stewart is in the family in a way, he does a recurring role on American Dad, and heís been on Family Guy more than one once. We had Marina Sirtis, and Jonathan Frakes and Michael Dorn had already done the show. And the rest, Denise Cosby and Gates McFadden and Wil Wheaton were very game. They were fans of the show. Wil, when he came and did his voice, stayed for hours talking to the artists. It was not hard at all and they couldnít have been nicer or more game to spoof themselves and have fun with this episode. We had a great time working with them. They were terrific.

I. Spelling And did they come in separately and record or did you have them all in a room at the same time recording with the rest of the regulars?

D. Goodman We donít. Just given peopleís schedules and given how animation works, you almost never have people in at the same time. I think people were in on the same day. A few of them were in on the same day, but their schedules were scattered and so we were amenable to working around their schedules. Most of them came in separately. I think Gates McFadden and Denise Crosby came in around the same time and got some pictures taken with them. But everybody else, I think actually we recorded Patrick Stewart remotely. He was in London when he recorded his role.

I. Spelling Did you get to interact with anybody? Were you there for each person as they came in?

D. Goodman I was there for many of them and they were delightful. It was fun hanging around with Ė and Denise Crosby, it turns out, lives a block away from me, so I see her in the neighborhood now all the time. Before this, I knew who she was. She didnít know who I was. Now she knows who I am. I was just a geek staring at her across the street.

I. Spelling Thanks and break a leg with the episode.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Lisa Gus, Blog Critics. Please go ahead.

L. Gus Iím actually asking what would be the ideal episode for you? Who would you focus on and what subject, sci-fi or politics or who would you have as your ideal guest on the show?

D. Goodman Whatís a great thing about our show is that you never have to decide any of those one things. We have to do 22 of them a year and there isnít an ideal episode. Itís more what can we come up with? What can we talk about that we havenít talked about before? Whatís getting harder as the show goes on because weíve done so many episodes, but there isnít an ideal episode we love all those subjects and all the subjects that we do and then weíre always surprised if something comes up that we havenít thought of before for us to do or take a shot at.

I think we have a very interesting episode coming up later next year that really kind of breaks a lot of the rules that weíve had on the show. Itís a show involving Stewie and Brian. And theyíre the only characters in it and itís a terrific episode. And again, whatís great about this show is that whatever rules that we set up for ourselves, weíre willing to break them in order to do something funny.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Tara Bennett from Newsarama. Please go ahead.

T. Bennett Thanks so much for doing this today. A couple of my questions were answered, so Iíll go back to the sequels to Blue Harvest, which you had mentioned just a little bit before. Obviously, it was so successful and so much fun. What were the ideas for the two sequels that youíre doing and when will we see those?

D. Goodman I think, Iím not absolutely sure, but I think Empire Strikes Back, that episode will air at the end of next season. It may be released before then, but it will air at the end of next season. That movie was a real, very different movie from the first Star Wars, so as a result, our sequel is also a lot different, a lot of new characters and a lot of great jokes that we threw in.

We were very happy with how Blue Harvest turned out, so the bar was very high for the sequel. The writer, Kurt Butler who wrote the first draft of the script, did an excellent job of mining that and then the staff got together and really just added more gags and jokes and hopefully making as good as the first. And then weíre a little bit early still for third one, but that also because we were very happy with how Empire has turned out, the third one also, the bar is set even that much higher. I think we are ripe to disappoint people, so there you go.

T. Bennett Plus you have Ewoks to mock, so thereís plenty for the third one.

D. Goodman There are Ewoks to mock and as we got to the third one, there may be characters from others of Sethís show that may show up since we were starting to run out of our own characters, but characters from American Dad and maybe the Cleveland show may show up in that third one.

T. Bennett With the success of being able to get together the Next Generation cast to do this and obviously you guys are really happy with what came out of that, is there a sequel? Did they all seem amenable that if you had another idea that that all liked, that they would do it again? Or are you guys thinking letís not repeat ourselves with this one?
D. Goodman We repeat ourselves when itís funny, so if the response to this episode is good, we absolutely would bring them back. We enjoyed working with them, but it would really depend on finding an idea that doesnít just repeat the same story over again.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Joshua Browne, Central Florida University Future. Please go ahead.

J. Browne Let me just say as a college student that some people go to church on Sunday and I watch Family Guy on Sundayís, so I love the show.

D. Goodman I hope God doesnít mind.

J. Browne Iím sure he doesnít. My question, I know that you said youíre a big Trekkie fan and I know that you wrote the Star Trek episode for Futurama, correct?

D. Goodman Thatís correct, yes.

J. Browne Did you have a hand in writing this episode as well?

D. Goodman The episode was written by one of our writers, Danny Smith and he did a great job. A lot of the original ideas for the story were his. We all worked on all the scripts on the show. I had a hand in all the episodes that we do in terms of figuring out the story and pitching out jokes with the rest of the writers, but the writer of this episode is Danny Smith, a very talented writer. Heís been with Family Guy for a long time. Even though heís not necessarily the biggest Trekkie, heís a truly funny person and did a great, great job. So we all contribute, but it started with Danny.

J. Browne Coming into the conversation almost 20 minutes in, most of the questions I wanted to ask have already been answered, but if you to had say one of your favorite characters on the show, who would it be?

D. Goodman I donít know that I have a favorite character. I think theyíre all at different times they all make me laugh and that really is a function of how talented the writers are, the writers that I work with are, and Seth is, and the actors who voice them. I honestly donít have a favorite character. Theyíre all great and fun to write and fun to watch. Iím a huge fan of this show as well, which makes coming to work a joy.

J. Browne One final question, absolutely one of the funniest gags for me is when Peter starts fighting the big yellow chicken that kind of just seamlessly pops out of nowhere. I thought it had died and then it came back like a year later. Is there going to be any more, any gags?

D. Goodman Sort of what I was saying before, in terms of giant chicken gag you always want to make sure that youíre doing something fresh. I think the last time we did the giant chicken they sort of ended up going out to dinner. Peter ended up going out to dinner with his wife, which was a pitch that one of the writers, I think, Alex Sulkan, one of the writers that pitched that idea and that just freshened the whole thing up. It gave it new twists to it, so if we do it again, weíre going to have to find something that tops that. So we certainly talk about it all the time, but we have not found that idea yet.

J. Browne I hope you do, though, because that gag was a favorite of mine.

D. Goodman Oh, cool, thanks.

Moderator Our next question is from the line of Susan Lanoue, TV Mega-Site. Please go ahead.

S. Lanoue Actually, I donít like the giant chicken.

D. Goodman You donít like what?

S. Lanoue I donít like the giant yellow chicken, but thatís just my personal thing. None of the gags that run on from a long, long time, weíre going, okay, okay, enough. Thatís just a personal opinion.

D. Goodman Good to know.

I was wondering, I noticed you worked on Enterprise, and I was wondering if there will be any other cast reuniting of other Star Trek episodes.

D. Goodman You never know. Seth is a huge Star Trek fan. Heís watched all the series. He was on Enterprise when I was there. Thatís not a coincidence. I wouldnít necessarily count on it, but you never know.

Moderator Next question is from the line of Jim Halterman of ProgessivePulse.com. Please go ahead.

J. Halterman Thanks for your time. An episode like this, does it take longer to actually produce from the time the script gets started to the time in the final cut, does it take longer because thereís guest stars involved?

D. Goodman No, not really. Youíre on a schedule and you have to get the voices recorded before the show can be animated. So our production team is just really excellent at organizing and the artists are very flexible in terms of they can work on something if weíre waiting for voices on other characters, they can start drawing other things. Itís a very talented group of artists and production people who make sure that we stick to schedules. Sometimes we fall a little behind, but this episode was not more difficult than others.

A show like Blue Harvest, on the other hand, where you have complicated action sequences and computer generated effects, that can take a lot longer. But in terms of guest cast, itís actually the easiest thing, assuming that we get them in to record, it takes them five, ten minutes to record all their lines and theyíre done and we can then move on.

J. Halterman Everything else was asked, so thank you and good luck with the episode. Iím looking forward to it.

Moderator The next question is from Meredith Woerner from I09.com. Please go ahead.

M. Woerner Thanks so much for doing this. A lot of questions were asked, but Iím curious, as a Trekkie fan, were there any jokes, like maybe a Tasha Yar joke or a Jordi joke that you as a writer had to or wanted to tell?

D. Goodman Well, there is a Tasha Yar joke in the episode. Itís pretty obvious from the minute she opens her mouth. And Denise was very game about it and anybody who is familiar with the series will get it right away. Anybody whoís not, it just plays as a joke on its own. And then for me, in fact, the scene that Iím in, it was the second scene that my character is in, I am pontificating about a piece of Star Trek, Iím having an argument with another Star Trek fan about a piece of what they call Star Trek cannon. And the argument is actually a real argument that Star Trek fans have, so I was very pleased with that.

M. Woerner Can you tell us what the argument is?

D. Goodman Yes, in the episode, Iím going to sound like a real Star Trek fan, in the episode, ďRelicsĒ in Star Trek Next Generation, the character of Scotty is pulled out of suspended animation and he says, ďDid Captain Kirk come to pick me up?Ē And then we find out after the Next Generation ended that Captain Kirk died and Scotty was there. So why in that episode did he think Captain Kirk was going to pick him up if he saw him die later? And, of course, the answer is just from a production standpoint, that they hadnít made the movie yet and made that decision. But there is actually a possible explanation, which I offer in the guise of a cartoon character. So I was very pleased to do that. Does that make any sense to you at all?

M. Woerner Absolutely, it totally did. Were there any actors that maybe you told a joke about them, but they never really picked up on and they actually really had a good time making fun of themselves?

D. Goodman They all did. They all did. They all were veryóI donít think we were particularly cruel to anybody. It was sort of a lighthearted jesting about them and they as a group could not have had a better sense of humor, which you donít always find with actors. A lot of actors donít like to play themselves, donít like to spoof themselves, but this group is just the opposite. They were all just terrific.

M. Woerner Iím really looking forward to seeing it.

D. Goodman I hope you like it. I hope after all this build-up, you like it.

T. Raftery Okay, I think our time is up. That was our last question, so thank you to everyone that was on the call this morning. The episode of Family Guy is airing this Sunday, March 29th at 9 p.m. on FOX.

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