Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane Offers Candid Comparison Between Working At Fox And Disney

Ed in Captain's seat in The Orville: New Horizons
(Image credit: Hulu)

With The Orville: New Horizons going strong at Hulu, and a prequel to the feature-originated world of Ted happening at Peacock (among other projects), Seth MacFarlane has quite notably distanced himself from his former home of Fox, save for his work on the stalwart animated comedy Family Guy. Having exited his overall deal with the network in 2020, MacFarlane signed on for a new deal with NBCUniversal, but has obviously also maintained a relationship with Fox’s parent company Disney during the extended production of The Orville’s third season. And given how outspoken and opinionated the multi-hyphenate entertainer has been in the past, it should surprise no one that he has opinions about how working for Fox and Disney compare and contrast. 

As part of the 13th annual Produced By conference (via Deadline), Seth MacFarlane spoke rather candidly about how things are going with both Fox and Disney, while still refraining from delivering censorable profanities or going into roast mode (as he did during The Orville’s Season 3 premiere event). Instead, he offered a more authentic explanation for how he felt about both corporations. 

What Seth MacFarlane Said About Working With Fox 

Though Seth MacFarlane has always taken shots at Fox over the past 23 years, sometimes through his animated series themselves, things became more noticeably fraught in recent years thanks to the creator’s views on Fox News, and the cable channel’s own heightened reliance on opinion-driven programming. Here’s how he first explained things:

It’s an incredibly complicated relationship that I have with that company. There are people there with whom I have great personal relationships. There are people that I like a lot. But it is a different company than it was when I started. It’s very difficult for me to reconcile exactly what my relationship is with that company right now. I, like many people, have a lot of issues and a lot of objections to their practices. Certainly, the news division and the entertainment division operate relatively independently of each other, and that’s something that allowed a lot of us to sleep a little better.

The separation between Fox News and other sectors of the Fox brand has been both an interesting and confusing topic in recent years, particularly in cases where those worlds do still intertwine, such as it went when Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared as a contestant on The Masked Singer, which notably sparked Ken Jeong to vacate the studio at the time of the unmasking. Referring to that instance as “distressing,” MacFarlane did give the network credit for allowing Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad (when it was still on Fox) to tell their stories without censoring or politically motivated suggestions from on high. In his words:

I dump on Fox a lot, but I will say the whole time I was there, no one ever tried to censor the show politically. There’s a very laissez faire attitude that worked great for us…I was never censored and I was never pressured to project a different political outlook.

Seth MacFarlane also shared that he thinks there’s a legitimate need for a “rational” conservative news outlet, which he thinks Fox News started out as before going “someplace radically different.”

What Seth MacFarlane Said About Working With Disney

On the flip side of things, Seth MacFarlane had almost entirely positive and glowing things to say about his working relationship with Disney, whether it be through Fox or through Hulu with The Orville. Without getting too specific about anything overtly partisan, he shared his thoughts on the company’s outlook, and how it’s been for him from a creative perspective. 

The company as a whole has been, for the most part, admirable – not always, but for the most part. They do try to be culturally conscious. They try to be ethically responsible. And creatively, my relationship with them has been terrific. . . . [Bringing The Orville to Hulu was] one of the best creative experiences of my career, and the support that I’ve gotten from Disney and from Hulu in as far as giving us the resources to do it and to compete with some of the visually most ambitious shows on television has been really gratifying. And I can’t say enough good things. I really had a blast there.

If your warning bells just went off, you probably aren’t alone, as Seth MacFarlane’s use of past tense implies that he won’t be returning for Season 4, which is already something that has been speculated about, given how much of a daunting and expensive production it has been through all things COVID. Not to mention everything else happening in his career. But MacFarlane does make it sound like the Powers That Be were perfectly willing to provide whatever it took to bring Season 3 to life, so it’s still possible that the show will live on, provided it drives some major viewership for Hulu, of course. 

Seth MacFarlane also shared some kind words about his long-lasting relationship with Dana Walden, a former Fox TV executive who is currently the chairperson of general entertainment content for Disney. Here’s how he put it:

It’s been great. She’s a great friend and a great executive, and she’s just an absolute joy to work for. She’s one of those people that you can see yourself following throughout the industry, just to work with her over and over and over.

While it’s unclear if the Family Guy star will continue to work with Dana Walden and other Disney and Hulu execs once The Orville: New Horizons has wrapped its season, fans can be sure that we’ll have more news on that front by the end of the summer.

The Orville drops new episodes every Thursday for those with Hulu subscriptions, so be sure to check out the emotional space-faring fun!

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.