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Interview With Seth MacFarlane

Aired April 22, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane.


FAMILY GUY: I want you to meet your family.

You're my family.


KING: His twisted, dysfunctional, even perverse take on mom, dad and the kids have made him Hollywood's $100 million man. The highest paid writer in television and only in his 30s. He's an equal opportunity offender. Christians, gays, Sarah Palin, you name it, nothing, no one off limits.


FAMILY GUY: I met Larry King.

Name dropper.


KING: Cruel or cool? Wicked or wonderful? Seth MacFarlane next.


FAMILY GUY: You know, today started as a really nice outing but as usual you had to ruin it.


KING: On "Larry King Live." That is funny stuff. By the way, we have a group, a gang of nice-looking people here in the studio from the Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, California. All high school students here as fans of our special guest Seth MacFarlane, there they are. He's the Emmy-winning creator of "Family Guy" "The Cleveland Show" and "American Dad." He's a producer, writer, animator, director, actor and he voices many of the characters that he created. The 150th episode of "Family Guy" debuts Sunday, May 2nd on Fox. Here's a sneak peek.


FAMILY GUY: Well Stewy, come on. You don't know how to use that thing.

Really? What if I hold it sideways like a black guy.

Man, take it easy. I don't want any trouble.

There's not going to be any trouble as long as you eat my poo.

That is not happening.

Then I'll be forced to shoot you.

Go ahead. There's aren't any bullets in that gun.

I don't believe you.

Then shoot me.

I will.

Do it.

I will.

Then do it. What are you waiting for, go on?

I will. I'll blow your [ bleep ] head off.


KING: You know, you are sick.

SETH MACFARLANE, CREATOR, "FAMILY GUY": Yes, yes. I have a lot of problems.

KING: How did all this start for you? You were a cartoonist?

MACFARLANE: Yeah. I was -- you know, I had been drawing cartoons since I was about two years old. My parents have Woody Woodpeckers and Fred Flintstones from way, way, way back and my first job was doing a cartoon, a weekly strip for our local, small town paper when I was about nine years old and they paid me five bucks a week to do one cartoon a week.

KING: So you were first a cartoonist?

MACFARLANE: Yeah, yeah. I didn't fall into writing until much later. I had -- I was pretty hell bent on getting into the cartoon business specifically as an artist from the get-go.

KING: Why television? "Simpsons" affected you.

MACFARLANE: Yeah. Well, it wasn't always television. When Disney had their resurgence in the late '80s, early '90s --

KING: We are showing drawings of when you were 10 years old.

MACFARLANE: Walter Crouton.

KING: Walter Crouton.

MACFARLANE: Like all nine-year-olds I was really into Walter Cronkite. You know, I wanted to work for Disney for a long time. You know, when they had the resurgence with "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast" and what not in the late '80s, early '90s, I thought this is what I want to do and then "The Simpsons" came along and kind of rewrote the landscape of animation.

KING: You hardly fit Disney.

MACFARLANE: Yeah, probably good -- it is good that didn't happen.

KING: That clip we showed is an unusual episode, basically one setting, a locked bank vault, two characters, Brian and Stewy. You voice both of them. Is that hard to do?

MACFARLANE: It's gotten easy believe it or not. There are things that are hard about the series. That's strangely an easy thing. And when we do our table reads for the show, when we read the script aloud for the first time, I have to sort of jump back and forth from this guy to this guy and then back to this guy and it is -- it's become almost second nature because I know those characters so well at this point. Initially it was a bit of a challenge but it's now, it's second nature.

KING: What was your first hit? First hit show was --

MACFARLANE: Well, it was "Family Guy." I wrote for a show called "Johnny Bravo" on Cartoon network that aired for a few years and actually is sort of a cult hit in its own right. It was created by a friend of mine, but "Family Guy" was, you know, my first. Some would say only hit.

KING: Well, Cleveland's pretty good but that's an offshoot.


KING: You took "The Simpsons" and went raw, right?

MACFARLANE: Yeah. I mean, you try to take what's good about your predecessors and take it to the next level. I think there's, you know, originality is important but at the same time when "All in the Family" came out there were a lot of great shows that followed that were taking a cue from that show. Look how well they did this. This is new. Let's do more versions of this.

KING: Do you think to yourself, I'm gutsy?

MACFARLANE: Not -- not really. I guess maybe that makes me a little desensitized but --

KING: There's no limit on you, is there?

MACFARLANE: There is. We have long extended conversations about what we should or should not do.

KING: Give me a topic you turned down.

MACFARLANE: If something is a recent tragedy of some kind.

KING: Death.

MACFARLANE: We won't touch it. Yeah, yeah. If there's a recent plane crash, we obviously will not make a joke about it. We'll wait.

KING: Wait a month?

MACFARLANE: Yeah. You beat me to the joke, Larry.

KING: OK. Get this. "Family Guy" debuts after the 1999 Super Bowl and includes a scene of Peter Griffin watching "Philadelphia," that tragic movie about a gay.


KING: He thinks it's a comedy and laughs when Tom Hanks' character announces he has AIDS.


KING: From what mind came --

MACFARLANE: There's a certain type of New Englander that I grew up with. I knew a lot of these guys who -- their hearts were in the right place but they weren't the most critical, the most in depth thinkers out there and, you know, Peter Griffin embodies that type of guy. And in his mind, everything that he had seen Tom Hanks in up to that point was hilarious. So he was looking for the comedy. He went to see "Philadelphia" looking for the jokes.

KING: So when the AIDS comes out, he cracks?

MACFARLANE: Yeah, yeah. He loses it.

KING: That's just the beginning, folks. Seth MacFarlane's our guest, the creator of "Family Guy," "The Cleveland Show" and "American Dad," producer, writer, animator. He is everything. Seth ticks off a lot of people. Does he get any threats against him? Next.


KING: Brian and Stewy are overseeing things here tonight and that's scary because they're in the control room right now pushing buttons. Look at this. If we are on the air, I'm not sure we're on. There they are. How did you come up with them?

MACFARLANE: Well, Stewy is --

KING: Is what?

MACFARLANE: Believe it or not based on, the character is based on Rex Harrison of all people, the character actor. "My Fair Lady," "Agony and the Ecstasy." He is a guy who just I found him very amusing when I was in high school and college. Something very, very interesting about his mannerisms.

KING: You take a lot of risks, obviously.


KING: Have you run into trouble? Have you had threats?

MACFARLANE: I have never had a death threat that I know of. A lot of the hate mail gets screened pretty much by Fox. They kind of protect us. I have never received anything that's --

KING: Fox is not known as a non political place, the news network certainly. Have you ever gotten flack from the Murdochs?

MACFARLANE: No. And I got to figure -- my theory, you know, all the years I have been there I actually never met Rupert Murdoch. My theory is the guy is a businessman first and a Republican second. And if something with a distinctly liberal slant is doing good for the company he is not going to step in and --

KING: Money counts?

MACFARLANE: Yeah, yeah.

KING: An Islamic group "Revolution Muslim" is warning "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker that they could be killed because of their depiction of the prophet Mohammed. Seth's show (ph) has taken on just about every religious faith, we got to admit that. He also mocked Osama bin Laden in a historic piece. Watch.


FAMILY GUY: This is a message to all American infidels. Prepare to die in a sea of holy fire. You will be punished for your decadent ways on the first day of Radaman. Wait. Wait a minute. What did I say? Radaman. Blah blah blah. Ramadan. What is that? Maybe Dennis Rodman is going to punish you with his crazy hair. No. What is that? Right, right. Yeah, no. OK. OK. All right. Let's go again.


KING: Do you get any flack on that?

MACFARLANE: We didn't get any flack. I think probably the difference there is that bin Laden is not a deity.

KING: Making fun of him.

MACFARLANE: It struck us as kind of funny this very extreme situation set in this very mundane setting. He can't -- he's got to keep doing takes and he can't not laugh.

KING: Did you ever get letters from the FCC? MACFARLANE: We have had a few what are called letters of inquiry I'm sure -- I don't know. I don't know if you had any run-ins.

KING: A few in the past. What did you say and why did you say it?

MACFARLANE: With ours, I think it was regarding an episode about the FCC. We did an episode in which Peter goes up against the FCC and the FCC said can you please send us a copy of this? We were sitting there sweating bullets and they essentially called us back and said, we thought it was pretty funny.

KING: Does Fox ever blue pencil you?

MACFARLANE: Yeah. You mean, do they snip things out of the show? Yeah, yeah.

KING: Curse words they snip.

MACFARLANE: Yeah. Our show is -- is big enough on the DVD market that we do two versions these days. We do the bleeped version for air and we do essentially a director's cut of every episode for DVD so all the things that we can't get on air are on the DVDs.

KING: You are an industry.

MACFARLANE: I guess, yeah. Yeah. That's enough to get me an ulcer.

KING: Earlier this year "Family Guy" took flack for which an episode in which Chris Griffin dated a girl with Downs syndrome. Here's a clip.


FAMILY GUY: You got to be this rude all evening? You haven't asked me anything about myself.

Oh, um, sorry. What do you parents do?

That's better. My dad is an accountant and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.


KING: OK. Now, understand. Down syndrome --

MACFARLANE: Oh, right. That episode.

KING: A Down syndrome girl did that?


KING: You found someone?

MACFARLANE: The only way we can do it is that the actress has to have Downs syndrome. It's like the only way the episode is OK and then she has to be depicted as a dimensional character and so we figured let's just make her just an incredibly domineering bitch.

KING: Sarah Palin had a reaction. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So governor, what do you think? It's pretty nasty, is it not?

SARAH PALIN (R) FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: This world is full of cruel, cold-hearted people who would do such a thing. Look. I look at Trigg and he is going to face things as special needs children will be facing much more difficult than we ever will. So why make it suffer on the special needs community? When is enough enough? When are we going to be willing to say some things just aren't really funny?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with you. Look, this guy MacFarlane who did this is a hater. Makes a lot of money for Fox but I think there should be some standards, some time but apparently there aren't.


KING: Pot calling the kettle black. How did you react to that? Were you hurt?

MACFARLANE: No, no. No way was I emotionally scarred. I was able to sleep well at night.

KING: Do you think you're a hater?

MACFARLANE: I don't think so. I don't consider myself a hater. I -- I'm a fairly optimistic person.

KING: Do you think Sarah's critique (INAUDIBLE) any merit?

MACFARLANE: I actually do think, you know, as much as I disagree with just about everything that she stands for, I do think at the end of the day probably to some degree -- I think it was part political, you know, partially politically motivated and part genuine. She is a mom. She probably was ticked off on some level but what those percentages are I couldn't tell you.

KING: Terri Schiavo the musical. We'll talk about it next with Seth MacFarlane.



FAMILY GUY: You know, they say Chuck Norris is so tough there's no chin under his beard. There's only another fist.

That's ridiculous. Chuck Norris.

I'm sure it will got as well as Liza Minnelli's "Playboy" shoot.

Oh God. Put your clothes back on.

Ma, ma, do you love me now, ma?

Ben Stiller. Help me.

No, Peter. I heard what you said about my movies.

How did you hear?


Hey, Paris. I'm a friend of Jesus'. Check it out. I have a cool bag too and it has a dog in it just like yours.

(INAUDIBLE) I met Larry King.

Name dropper!


KING: Should I be honored? Anyway. Seth MacFarlane's our guest. His show provoked an outcry with a musical about the late Terri Schiavo. We reached out to them today and Terry's brother Bobby had this question for you. How do you justify using the term vegetable to describe any human being when its only intention is to denigrate and dehumanize just like the "N" word?

MACFARLANE: My first response would be it's not a human being, it is a cartoon. But you know, I think -- this is -- this was a touchy area because the idea was, keep in mind, this is a play within a play. And this is an instance where you see the Griffin family in the audience reacting and in a way that is -- they themselves are a little put off and we have done this a few times on the show in which there's something that's done in extreme -- you know, one could argue questionable taste but you got to have somebody there who's reacting to that in a negative way and that's something that we sort of tried to include with Brian and Chris sitting in the audience reacting wide eyed at this show. It is kids putting on a play. You know, whether the -- whether that term is denigrating is for the viewer to judge.

KING: Did you have second thoughts about it?

MACFARLANE: We didn't because this was something that was exploited by the media long before we even got to it. This is an instance of something that was out there forever. I mean, it was -- it was all over the press everywhere. And for an animated show like ours, I mean, that's what we do. Not to comment on it in some way is, you know, that's just not how it operates.

KING: Do you always feel you're walking a line? MACFARLANE: Yeah. You do. You don't want to be nasty for the sake of being nasty. I mean, if you are actually depicting, you know, for example, Terri Schiavo as opposed to a deliberately inappropriate kids play, then you have serious discussions, are we doing this -- is this just cruel? Is this just mean? And there are a lot of those discussions that go on in the writer's room on a day- to-day basis. I think there's this vision of Hollywood writers as this hedonistic bunch who are just out to make their dough and do something that's going to be there for shock value. Not the case. I mean, my writers most of them are married, they have children. There's a lot of discussions that we have within that room. Is this funny enough? Is it satirical enough that it warrants the edginess of the material?

KING: Must be a lot of laughs in the room.

MACFARLANE: There are a few.

KING: Seth almost was not here. He almost was not around. He has a connection to 9/11, next.



FAMILY GUY: In this universe, she's still one of the ugly ones. If you saw Lois, you'd have to put your penis in a wheelchair.

Did you hear this awesome new song?

Love it.

Love it.

Hate it.

What? Oh no.

That's it. Punch your baby in the face.


KING: My 11 and nine year old, they love this show. They don't get it all the time. That's your purpose, right?

MACFARLANE: That's deliberate. If we are doing our jobs right, it is the kind of thing where the parents can watch the show and get a laugh knowing exactly what we're talking about and it just goes over the kids' heads.

KING: And you don't let them watch the DVDs.

MACFARLANE: I wouldn't. I wouldn't, no.

KING: On 9/11 you were scheduled to be on American Airlines flight 11 from Boston to LA. You didn't get on the plane. That plane went into the World Trade Center. Someone tweeted this to Kings things. Does Seth feel any kind of divine intervention over this narrow escape? What happened?

MACFARLANE: I -- you know, I get asked that a lot, actually. It's -- I don't. No, I'm not a religious person. I do believe in coincidences. I think that's just that's -- they happen. I have missed a lot of flights before. About half of the flights that I was booked on prior to that flight I had missed because --

KING: You are that kind of person?

MACFARLANE: Yeah. I overslept or out too late the night before or whatnot so it -- you know, it was --

KING: Where were you that day? Were you at the airport?

MACFARLANE: I was at the airport. I was in the lounge sleeping and I woke up and there was a commotion and I walked in and it was --

KING: You had missed that plane?

MACFARLANE: I had missed that plane, yeah. It was on television and I -- I said, my God, that's the flight that I was supposed to be booked on and my first thought was, we should all get out of this airport because they were just here and God knows if they left any -- left anything here at the airport so I -- you know, that --

KING: Don't you feel, what, lucky?

MACFARLANE: Yes. Very -- yes. Very, very, very lucky. Very, very fortunate.

KING: Did someone get your ticket?

MACFARLANE: That I do not know. You know? I have never investigated that. That would be a -- that would be a job for the press, I guess, to dig that one up. I have never looked into that.

KING: Nothing funny that day?

MACFARLANE: Nothing funny that day. No, no, no. You know 9/11 was something that -- that's an interesting example of something that you don't -- you got to pick just the right time to touch it in any kind of humorous way, even if you're making a comment, a satirical comment on the incident and there was a -- it was a long time before we felt it was OK and now it's, you know, now it's something that --

KING: Mel Brooks can do Hitler.

MACFARLANE: Yeah, yeah exactly.

KING: We'll be back with Seth MacFarlane, the brilliant Seth MacFarlane and his characters. I feel overwhelmed here. I feel like they're around me. We'll even have a question coming from one of our high school gang after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KING: There they are again, Seth, Brian and Stewie. We are back with Seth here. Brian and Stewie have taken over the control room.

We're also welcoming students from Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, California, as we mentioned earlier. They're watching our show in person tonight. And one of them, Alex, has a question for Seth.

Alex, go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you do some of the voices of characters from "Family Guy"?

KING: OK, yes. Let's see you do it. Come on.

That's a good question, Alex.

MACFARLANE: All right. Here I am. I'm going to do

KING: Here we go. Name them and do it them.

MACFARLANE: The entire cast of "One Day at A Time." I think that was the question. Here we go.


MACFARLANE: All right, all right. I'll bark like a seal for you, young man. OK, Stewie. Quagmire, giddy-giddy-giddy go. It's Quagmire. Peter Griffin, hello. It's me right behind there looking all tubby.

And, of course, Brian. Not changing a whole lot there.


MACFARLANE: Those are the big four. Those are the main ones.

KING: How about "Cleveland"?

MACFARLANE: "Cleveland," you know, I don't -- thank God I don't do the voice of Cleveland. I don't have to perform.

KING: Are you Brian?

MACFARLANE: I am Brian, yes. But, yes. "Cleveland" is voiced by a very funny comedian that I went to college with.

KING: Do voices come easily to you? Are you a mimic?

MACFARLANE: Yes. I used to do impressions a lot as a kid and, you know, I was always kind of fascinated by dialects and whatnot. And there's -- KING: Is the Brian character you?

MACFARLANE: In some ways, yes. In some ways.

KING: Some ways or more ways?

MACFARLANE: Yes, yes. He's --

KING: All right. We have some tweet questions. I'll lay them on you. Is Baby Stewie gay or bisexual?

MACFARLANE: We haven't really decided. There was a bit of press that came out a while back in which Stewie was outed as being gay and it was kind of taken out of context. It was -- it was in reference to an episode we had thought we were going to do and then abandoned.

But we haven't made that decision yet, because we get a lot of comedic mileage out of both sides.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) used to be on "Saturday Night Live."


KING: Pat.


KING: Another question on our Facebook page. "Will 'Family Guy' ever come to the big screen?"

MACFARLANE: Eventually, I can say almost with certainty that it will. It's -- you know, we all want to do it. FOX wants to do it. It's just a matter of timing. When you --

KING: You need to have a great story.

MACFARLANE: Yes, you got to have a great -- we actually have a story that we --


MACFARLANE: -- and that we know what it's going to be. It's just that -- but the problem is, when you're doing an animated show, it takes nine months to do each 22-minute episode and there's no hiatus. It's just around the clock.

So, when do you do the movie -- and that's the problem "The Simpsons" had. They went, what, 19, 20 years. And we just don't have time to do this. It's enough work to do the show on a weekly basis.

KING: Why did "The Simpsons" work?

MACFARLANE: You know, I -- we were talking about Jackie Gleason during the break. I'd say for the same reason that when they used to ask him in interviews, why do "The Honeymooners" work and expect a fancy answer and he just said, "Because I were funny." And I think at the core, that's true of "The Simpsons." I think it's -- I think it asks a lot of the audience. It asks them to be intelligent and it asks them to keep up.

And I think in comedy, you always want to have your audience behind you and telling them to keep up. You don't ever want to be chasing them.

KING: Also, tweeted, ask Seth to if he intends to do a show where he brings from all three of his cartoons together.

MACFARLANE: Yes. We have -- in our "Return of the Jedi" episode, our third "Star Wars" spoof, we bring them all together. And we have a hurricane night in which the same hurricane basically blows through all three shows in the same night. And we have -- which is kind of an old sitcom tradition.

KING: That's not done yet?

MACFARLANE: Not done yet, but it will happen. That will involve all three shows.

KING: When you sit down, do you start -- do all the writers sit together and say, let's see now?

MACFARLANE: Yes, yes. It's -- the process of writing that show, it's the same process that they wrote, you know, "The Honeymooners." It's same process that they wrote "The Brady Bunch." I mean, you name it, it's the same process.

KING: Do you talk about the characters as if they were real?

MACFARLANE: Yes. It is kind of a gray area. I mean, it's -- you do kind of get protective of these people. Maybe not Quagmire. We don't care what happens to him. But everyone else --

KING: Like him?

MACFARLANE: Yes, yes. You know --

KING: He's a dote.

MACFARLANE: Yes. There is -- there is a sense of -- you want to avoid what we call character assassination. That term is -- that term is bandied about in the writer's room a lot, and that just means -- is this something that makes Peter so reprehensible that you're just never going to forgive him for it? You know, if he murdered somebody.

KING: The thin line as Norman Lear had to do with Archie Bunker.


KING: It had to be a side of him.

MACFARLANE: And, I think, you know, what's -- what was key there and, you know, we take a lot of cues from Norman Lear is that as reprehensible as Archie was in so many ways, every week, you had Edith there who clearly loved him and she basically said to the audience, you know, it's OK to like this. I love him. And we try to do the same thing with Louise.

KING: And he loved her?


KING: What's appropriate? What isn't? Who decides.

Penn Jillette and Rachael Harris who don't mind offending people in the name of humor will join us next.


CARTOON CHARACTER: Ow. Damn it, Peter, stop it. I got to tell you, you're pissing me off worse than when I watched the O.J. verdict with my old room mate.

VOICE: We find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson not guilty.



CARTOON: Well, I am ready for my evening.

CARTOON CHARACTER: Oh my God, Peter. What the hell?

CARTOON CHARACTER: What's that around your neck?

CARTOON CHARACTER: Well, I say, it is a little black Jesus.



KING: Seth MacFarlane, the Emmy winning creator of "The Family Guy," "The Cleveland Show" and "American Dad" remains with us. It's his show tonight.

And we're joined now by the supporting cast. Penn Jillette, magician, comedian, author and libertarian. He is the taller talkative half of "Penn and Teller." They play at the Rio in Las Vegas. They also have a serious called "B.S." on Showtime.

And Rachael Harris, the actress and comedienne. Her film credits include the "The Hangover," one of the funniest movies ever made, and "Dairy of a Wimpy Kid." She also been a correspondent on "The Daily Show."

All right, guys. As we mentioned, the creators of "South Park" are being threatened with possible assassination because they show included a representation of the Prophet Mohammed. Here's a clip from that episode.


CARTOON CHARACTER: You said you wanted (EXPLETIVE DELETED). We got him for you.

CARTOON CHARACTER: We have no way of knowing if (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is really in there. It could be a trick.

CARTOON CHARACTER: It's not a trick, dude. My friend and I were like super best friends and brought him here.

CARTOON CHARACTER: Then have him step out of the bear costume. You have until the count of 10. One --

CARTOON CHARACTER: Don't do it, randy. If (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is seen we could get bombed.

CARTOON CHARACTER: Idiot. If he isn't seen, we are definitely about to be bombed.

CARTOON CHARACTER: All right, all right. Stop. We'll do what you say. I'm sorry (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Will you please step out of the bear costume?


KING: OK. Fair, unfair, funny, what? Penn?

PENN JILLETTE, MAGICIAN & COMEDIAN: Well, I don't think we -- any of us can say anything about anything to do with Islam. I don't think you're allowed to say it. I think it's too dangerous and I think when people like Matt and Trey who are some of the best writers and the most talented people alive today are threatened like that, everybody should be very, very scared. It says nothing about Matt and Trey. It only speaks to Islam.

KING: Rachel?

RACHAEL HARRIS, ACTRESS & COMEDIAN: Wow. Well, my opinion is a little bit different. I feel like -- well, first of all, the guy that are watching the Muslim Revolution, right? I mean, if they're going to turn on "South Park" and they're going to watch it, they should kind of know what they're getting into. It's not -- you know, it is as if --

KING: It is what it is?

HARRIS: Exactly. I feel like if you're going to watch the show --

JILLETTE: I believe they believe the very existence of that is an affront to their religion. It's not a question of they don't want to see it, it's not a question of taste. It's a question of morality. Isn't that what they're claiming?

HARRIS: Right. But then they should go after every organization or every comic that's ever said anything and said and threatened to kill them.

JILLETTE: I think they plan to.

HARRIS: Right. But I --

KING: Let's ask Mr. MacFarlane's thoughts.

MACFARLANE: I mean, look, it's no secret. I think any combination of angry plus deity equals nuts equals danger. You know, the question becomes: at what point is it -- is it worth it? At what point is it worth it for them to, you know, put themselves at risk? Is the joke so hilarious that we want to risk our lives?

And that's -- I don't know, if I were in that situation, honestly, I don't know how I would react.

JILLETTE: They certainly have other ways. Trey and Matt can get laughs doing anything at all. They're the best among us. So, it's not a question of doing it for the laugh. There is a moral element to this.

HARRIS: But didn't also Comedy Central then step in and sort of monkey around with that episode in a way that they were unaware of putting it on the air?

MACFARLANE: There's no way to tell. I mean, if -- there's no way to know. If it were me and I was in the situation, it was like, well, do I -- again, is this -- is this worth getting shot?

HARRIS: Right.

MACFARLANE: Is it the funniest joke anyone has written?


HARRIS: You think they knew that going in?

JILLETTE: I believe it's in the Koran. I believe that that information is available.


JILLETTE: They think they're not supposed to do that.

HARRIS: But do you think that they really thought that this would be something that would be -- that their life would get threatened? I mean, I think if being --

KING: Why would they do something to threaten --


HARRIS: Right. I think obviously wouldn't do it.

JILLETTE: I don't know about that. When you do something with a strong -- I mean, I think you cheapen Matt and Trey's morality, strength and courage when you say, is the joke worth it? Because the question is, what is morally right? And as strong as the religious side is and believing what's morally right, Matt and Trey have the strongest moral compass I know and they're very, very good men --

MACFARLANE: Let's not get hysterical.

JILLETTE: No. I think it's very true. I think it is a moral issue. It's not just the comedy.

KING: OK. Let met get a break.

We'll have more on Sarah Palin plus the tea party, and the vice president's F-bomb. We'll talk about it all with Seth MacFarlane, Penn Jillette, and Rachael Harris -- ahead.



MACFARLANE: Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Can we finish this discussion after Joan of Arcadia?

Who is Joan of Arcadia on? Who is Joan of Arcadia on?

Yes, thanks, Peter. I didn't know human urine would cover my scent.


KING: If you're looking for something good to read, we've got it on our blog. The incredible story of Ray Johnston, who had -- was a NBA player one day and then in a coma the next. And one of the real housewives of New York has written a book, "Secrets of a Jewish Mother." Yes, they have secret.

It's all on


KING: I don't get that either. Let's check in with Anderson Cooper and see what's up on "A.C. 360" -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Larry, at the top of the program tonight, keeping them honest.

In Arizona -- is Arizona about to legalize racial profiling? It's what many people are saying there, calling a new bill, quote, a single largest attack on the Latino community in history. Supporters of the bill, however, are counter-saying that's ridiculous. The new law is the only way to control an immigration problem that is simply out of control.

We'll have both sides tonight.

Also ahead, the big "360" interview: Dennis Quaid. Two and a half years ago, the actor nearly lost his newborn twins after doctors gave the wrong medicine just two weeks after they were born. Happily, the kids are fine today but has spurred Quaid on a crusade to fix easily preventable medical mistakes -- mistakes that claim over 200,000 lives a year.

All that plus the situation in the Gulf of Mexico has gone from bad to worse. That oil rig that exploded has now sunk, creating a growing five-mile oil slick.

The latest on that and a lot more at the top of the hour, Larry.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper 10:00 Eastern/7:00 Pacific.

Tea party movement. Are you going to make fun of it yet?

MACFARLANE: I think it kind of does that on its own. I --

KING: It is what it is.

MACFARLANE: Yes. You know, the tea party movement is -- I always have a problem with people who say -- you know what, it's not the Republicans, it's the Democrats, it's all politicians. They're all the problem.

And I don't think, in this case, that's true. I think you had one party that actually was trying to affect change particularly with this health care bill. You had 60 percent of the people in this country who wanted a public option. It was ignored. And I --

KING: So, you're saying it's right-wing Republicans?

MACFARLANE: And another side that filibustered everything that stands to lose big if Obama does anything right or anything productive. And I think, in a lot of cases, it's just kind of laziness when it comes to knowing the facts and knowing what's really going on out there.

KING: What do you think of the tea party?

JILLETTE: I -- there's a lot I disagree with them on and I'm not really part of it. But I always think that a distrust of the government is the healthiest things Americans can have. I think that the country was built, the most American thing you can have is a distrust of leaders. Don't follow leaders, watch your parking meters.

KING: Rachael?

HARRIS: Yes, well, I don't completely share the same opinion with Penn. I feel like the tea party group in particular isn't really -- I mean, they can sort of mask themselves as saying that it's about taxes and it's about all these other issues. But I really find it to be sort of this upper middle-class white-run organization that's not really -- that's not really about affecting change. It's about the sort of -- I do tend to think it's more --

KING: Class?

HARRIS: I wouldn't say class, I do think it's more about racism as opposed to being a really political --

JILLETTE: That's the magic word. Once you say racism, the other side loses automatically. And I don't think we have very much evidence that that's what it is. Don't they have to be doing racist things besides you just saying that they're racist?

HARRIS: No, but they're looking at the number of people that are in --


JILLETTE: So, the race that they are makes them racist by definition?

HARRIS: Well, no, I don't think the race that they are by nature makes them racists.

MACFARLANE: If you want to like -- if you want to legitimatize them for a moment, you know, some of their gripes are legitimate. The average American has not had a pay raise adjusted for inflation since 1973 while guys like us have gotten richer and richer --

JILLETTE: '73? I was making like $4 an hour.

MACFARLANE: But the problem is, they're misdirecting it. It's always been fascinating to me that they -- that groups like this will direct their anger at the left. And you know, I think it's -- it should be noted that --

KING: But you don't getting mad at the right.

MACFARLANE: Yes. Well, did you have --

JILLETTE: They're pretty mad at the right.

MACFARLANE: -- the $100 million or $1 billion Koch family that funds FreedomWorks, which supports the tea party. They benefit by getting these guys riled up about this guy that's trying to affect health reform as opposed to getting mad at the rich guys themselves.

JILLETTE: But it is -- it is rich people telling them what to do or is it white people --

MACFARLANE: I think it's a little bit of puppeteering. Yes.

JILLETTE: Which one is it? Are they a racist organization or are they a puppet organization?

HARRIS: Well, when Seth and I got together and created the tea party --

JILLETTE: OK, that's what I'm wondering.

HARRIS: We had a big --

(CROSSTALK) KING: It's finally come out.

HARRIS: Right, exactly.

JILLETTE: They're all sorts of people that have different opinions than you. They have different opinion than me.

MACFARLANE: It was supposed to be a --


HARRIS: Yes, but think it's very anti-Obama. You know, it's very --

JILLETTE: But there are groups that were anti-Bush too. I was really anti-Bush.


JILLETTE: And yet no one called a racist.


HARRIS: But he wasn't the first black president either.

JILLETTE: So, once he's the first black president --


KING: All right. Let me -- let me get a break.

JILLETTE: Take it, Larry.

KING: You'll be sponsored by Lipton.


KING: Time for a salute to tonight's hero. Watch.


DR. SEAN DANESHMAND, MEDICAL MARVEL: My daughter was born prematurely. And to see people, hearing there's something wrong with their baby, and then to have to worry about everything else around them, I mean, life doesn't stop.

I'm Dr. Sean Daneshmand. I started an organization that provides assistance to families with babies in NICU. I wanted to take some of the suffering that these women go through away from them so they can really focus on their baby.

It's emotionally draining and the way the economy now is, people are suffering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't think this was going to be as hard. She's going to do it. She's going to be OK. DANESHMAND: They need extra money for clothing, diapers, medical expenses, rent. These are families that, all of a sudden, in a time of crisis now need extra help. That's what we're about.

You're good. You got to stay strong right now.

I've got a very special rule in life.

I never thought I'd be here and, my God, I'm having a great time.




KING: Dean, Sammy and Frank, you like them, right, Seth?


JILLETTE: Who did Sammy?

MACFARLANE: That was me. That was me.

KING: You did all of them?

MACFARLANE: I did all three of them. Yes.

KING: That was a great bit. You ever use the N-word on your show?

MACFARLANE: We -- no, it's -- "The Cleveland Show" has used -- I mean, they've said the phrase "the N-word," but as far as using the actual N-word -- no, no.

KING: Do you like "Family Guy"?

JILLETTE: Yes, very much.

KING: Do you like it?

HARRIS: Yes, I do.

JILLETTE: Well, I'm sitting right here. I mean --



KING: That makes a difference.

JILLETTE: Great help that you said that, Larry.


HARRIS: No -- "Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenager Daughter," that's one of my favorite episodes.

MACFARLANE: Oh, yes. Yes.


KING: We're running out of time. What's the next show about?

MACFARLANE: The next show, Brian and Stewie trapped in a vault, no cutaways, no flashbacks. It's like a one-act stage play you might see on Broadway.

KING: Trapped in a vault.

JILLETTE: They're showing cartoons on Broadway?


KING: Thank you all very much.

Seth MacFarlane, Penn Jillette, Rachael Harris -- what do you think of them, guys?


KING: Pacific Ridge School. Anderson Cooper and "A.C. 360" right now -- Anderson.