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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cleveland' pushed to fall; Huffington joins cast

Cleveland Good news, bad news and surprising news for "Family Guy" fans.

Fox has ordered a full season of the upcoming "Family Guy" spinoff "The Cleveland Show." But the network has decided to push the comedy's debut date to next fall.

Fox ordered an additional nine episodes of "Cleveland," which was originally planned for midseason.

And here's the surprise: The network also announced that Arianna Huffington will join the cast in a recurring role as a talking bear.

The Huffington Post co-founder will voice the character of Arianna, the matriarch of a bear family. Her character's husband, Tim, is voiced by "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane.

Last week Fox announced a midseason lineup that did not include "Cleveland." The lineup also did not include previously announced midseason comedy "Sit Down, Shut Up." Sources say "Sit Down" is still currently planned for midseason, perhaps late Spring.

The AP has a new Q&A with MacFarlane, here's a couple exchanges:

Q: Let's talk about what pays the mortgage: "Family Guy." What's new for the seventh season?

MacFarlane: In one episode, Stewie kidnaps the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." They (the original cast members) all came back, reunited to do their voices for us. Brian tries to legalize pot in Quahog (Rhode Island, where the show is set). Peter tells the story of his ancestry. Down the line, we have our "Family Guy" abortion episode, believe it or not. Hats off to Fox for letting us take some risks, as always. There can be a lot of trouble, but at the end of the day, they do generally step up for risky, sensitive, topical stuff.

Q: Cleveland (a "Family Guy" neighbor) is getting his own series. What does it say about the state of television that Entertainment Weekly picks him -- an animated character -- as the cover boy for a story on African-American characters in prime-time?

MacFarlane: This is a guy who's played like a real three-dimensional guy -- not just as a cardboard, stereotyped black guy. I actually would stack that show up against other shows about black characters in recent years because I think a lot of them are -- they dumb them down for some reason. They talk down to their audience. We're just treating this like "Family Guy," like any other show.

The new show's official description:

CLEVELAND BROWN (voiced by Mike Henry) to his hometown in Virginia, as he settles down with his high school sweetheart, DONNA (voiced by Sanaa Lathan), and her unruly kids ROBERTA (voiced by Nia Long) and 5-year-old RALLO (voiced by Henry), as well as his own 14-year-old son, CLEVELAND JR (voiced by Richardson). Once in Virginia, Cleveland is welcomed by a collection of neighbors that includes a loudmouth redneck, LESTER (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson); a hipster wanna-be, HOLT; and a family of talking bears, including TIM (voiced by MacFarlane) and his wife ARIANNA (voiced by Huffington). THE CLEVELAND SHOW is a 20th Century Fox Television production. Seth MacFarlane, Rich Appel and Mike Henry serve as executive producers and co-creators.