EXCLUSIVE: As American Dad is ramping up production on its eleventh season and first on TBS, the animated comedy’s co-creator/executive producer/co-showrunner Mike Barker has stepped down. He remains under an overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV, the studio behind American Dad. Barker has been running the series with fellow co-creator/exec producer Matt Weitzman (the two co-created it with executive producer Seth MacFarlane). For the time being, Weitzman will serve as sole showrunner. American Dad is in the beginning stages of making the first four episodes of Season 11, which have held their table reads as part of a nine-month production cycle per episode. I hear the change at the helm was made over concerns that the show was not running smoothly. Barker has been on American Dad since the show’s 2005 launch except for a short-term leave last season.
BREAKING … TBS continues to boost its slate to provide better primetime lead-ins to its flagship talk show Conan. The network announced today that has picked up Fox’s animated comedy American Dad! and will air it beginning in 2014 — the Turner net has ordered 15 episodes of the 20th Century Fox TV-produced series’ 11th season. The Seth MacFarlane comedy premiered on Fox in 2005 and has been a long-standing member of that network’s Sunday animation block. American Dad! will kick off its 10th (and now last) season on Fox on September 29. Under the new deal, fellow Turner network Adult Swim will present encores of each episode after initial airings on TBS. TBS and Adult Swim already air reruns of American Dad! and MacFarlane’s Family Guy throughout the networks’ lineups.
“American Dad! is a great fit for TBS, a favorite of comedy fans who like smart, irreverent humor with ample doses of biting wit and skewering satire,” said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movie, in announcing the deal. “We look forward to welcoming Seth MacFarlane and the rest of his team as they bring this iconic show to TBS.”
EXCLUSIVE: Family Guy veteran Steve Callaghan is joining American Dad as executive producer and new showrunner. In the showrunner duties, Callaghan succeeds American Dad co-creators Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman who remain executive producers on the series. The changeover is part of Seth MacFarlane‘s strategy of keeping things fresh on his Fox/20th TV animated series by shaking things up at the top. MacFarlane is also known for deep loyalty to his writers, most of whom have been with him for a long time, so while they may move among his various shows, MacFarlane’s writer-producers rarely leave. For example, Callaghan was a member of the original writing staff of Family Guy. He was named executive producer and co-showrunner in 2009. After a three-year stint with Callaghan and Mark Hentemann at the helm, another long-time MacFarlane cohort, Rich Appel, was brought in last fall as new showrunner. (He came from MacFarlane’s third Fox series, Family Guy spinoff The Cleveland Show, which he ran.) Callaghan and Hentemann stayed on after the showrunner change, and WME-repped Callaghan is now taking the reins of American Dad, which is in its eighth season.
The first of the programs pulled by the networks in the immediate aftermath of the tragic Friday school shooting in Connecticut has been rescheduled. The original Family Guy episode, which was slated to run last Sunday, will air this coming Sunday. Last Friday, Fox opted to preempt both Family Guy and American Dad. While I hear the American Dad episode does feature gun violence, I hear the holiday-themed edition of Family Guy does not contain violence but, in a typical Family Guy non-PC fashion, pokes fun at religion, which was deemed inappropriate for last weekend. There is no new airdate set yet for the pulled American Dad episode. Another American Dad original will air this Sunday. Last Friday’s episode of Syfy’s drama Haven, which also was pulled out of respect to the victims because it depicted violence, has been held back too, and I hear won’t air until mid-January.
The networks’ pre-emptions this past weekend also included ABC taking down briefly the Thursday winter finale of Scandal from its online player. It contained a scene of an innocent family with two small children who had been gunned down. The episode has since been restored.
Seth MacFarlane might be making a sequel to Ted. “I’d be open to making Ted 2,” the director today told fans at the American Dad panel at Comic-Con. MacFarlane didn’t elaborate on the possibility of he and Ted co-star Mark Wahlberg’s reunion. However, the fact that the film, which was released on June 29, has become one of the the biggest R-Rated comedies at the box office, a sequel makes sense.
Earlier on the panel, it was announced that Mad Men’s Jon Hamm will join Danny Glover, Sarah Michelle Geller, Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint, Danny Glover and former SNL cast member Will Forte as guest stars on the new season of American Dad. The guest stars announcement came on the American Dad panel that immediately followed the Family Guy panel in Comic-Con’s Ballroom 20 today.
MacFarlane, who is also Family Guy’s executive producer, creator and star also told the fans that his Flintstones reboot isn’t dead but it’s really not a priority right now. “It’s been put on the backburner, so we don’t know when it is going to happened. There’s no exact schedule,”
EXCLUSIVE: Along with all the action on the live-action side at Fox this week, with the network picking up new series, renewing and canceling existing ones, Fox also has quietly made a move on the animated side. I’ve learned that within the last few days, Fox has renewed flagship animated comedy Family Guy for an 11th season and American Dad for an eighth. I hear the orders are for 22 epsiodes each. American Dad, which recently returned from hiatus, is in its sixth season on the air, with a full seventh season worth of episodes in the can to begin running in September. The pickups ensure that both Seth MacFarlane series will be on the air at least through the 2013-14 season. By then, Family Guy will have amassed 239 episodes.
Meanwhile, Fox has not picked up the option on a fifth-season renewal for MacFarlane’s third animated series, The Cleveland Show, which is finishing its third season on the air. The series is midway in production on a full fourth season worth of episodes for next fall. Because the show is still in production, the network has opted to postpone a decision on a fifth season …
The Parents Television Council fired another volley today at one of its favorite targets: adult-themed cartoons that also attract kids. The activist group called for “sweeping reform” of the TV content rating system as a study it released points to what it says are “shocking levels” of sex and drug references in primetime on animation channels that are popular with kids between 12 and 17. “Adult content isn’t just creeping into the cartoons that kids today are watching the most; it has overtaken much of that animated programming,” PTC president Tim Winter says. “Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs and crystal meth.” PTC is especially upset with programming on Turner’s Cartoon Network and Adult Swim: The report, titled Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter, gave each an “F” grade for their handling of adult-themed animation. Disney Channel and Nick At Nite each received an “A”.
The three Seth MacFarlane Fox animated comedies, Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show, had been planning a crossover event for this Sunday, with a hurricane storyline weaving through all three shows. In light of the recent storms in the South, Fox recently quietly pulled promotion for the crossover and today, following a series of tornadoes that has claimed the lives of more than 300 people, it decided to pull the episodes altogether. They will be saved for next season, with reruns airing in their place this Sunday.