Getting to know ''The Cleveland Show'''s animated star

By Alynda Wheat
Updated September 11, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Cleveland Brown
STARS IN THE CLEVELAND SHOW
New Comedy — 8:30-9PM — Fox — Debuts Sept. 27

It’s not The Quagmire Show because, as exec producer Seth MacFarlane declared, ”nobody wants to watch a sitcom about a rapist.” Enter Family Guy‘s affable Cleveland Brown. With his son, Cleveland Jr., the character returns to his hometown of Stoolbend, Va., and marries his first love, Donna (Sanaa Lathan), who has two kids of her own. The Cleveland Show, says co-creator Mike Henry (who also voices Cleveland), ”tells the stories that The Brady Bunch never told.” (Carol and Mike never lived next to a family of bears.) First, though, Henry needed to give Cleveland a backstory, one that sounds a lot like Henry’s: He’s a Virginian with a love of baseball and ’70s soul. (One big difference: Henry is white.) The creator’s neighbors should beware that he’s mining them for material. ”I had Cleveland be a cable installer because I bought a house there, and the installer was quite a character,” he says. ”Every trip home, there’s stuff.”

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