Family Guy producers are finally talking about that decade-old Kevin Spacey joke that went viral in the wake of the actor’s sexual abuse scandal this fall.
In a throwaway moment from a 2005 episode of the animated comedy, Stewie was seen running naked through a mall, screaming, “Help! I’ve escaped from Kevin Spacey’s basement!” During a Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour panel in Pasadena on Thursday, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane was asked how he managed to get that line by Fox’s Broadcast and Standards department. As it turns out, he was unfamiliar with the rumors at the time — and the joke had to be “explained” to him.
“I don’t remember who pitched the joke,” he said. “I remember when it was pitched… that was a rumor I had actually not heard and other people in the writers’ room had. And it had to be sort of explained to me: ‘Oh, there’s this rumor that’s going on.'”
MacFarlane could not remember who came up with the joke, nor could fellow executive producer Alec Sulkin. “I think that that was something where he was coming off a story where he had been kind of beaten up in a London park, and he claimed that he was walking his dog late at night and fell, and I think that raised a lot of eyebrows,” said Sulkin. “It’s one of the things in terms of Standards where if they heard the rumors, as we have, then they’ll allow it.”
“That’s one standard — if there’s some rumor out there that’s been public,” added executive producer Rich Appel. “The other one is if it seems outrageous and no one could possibly believe it’s true, and some of those have come to pass, too. When they were aired, you thought, ‘Well, this is never going to happen.'”
In October 2017, following actor Anthony Rapp’s public accusation of Spacey’s sexual misconduct, the House of Cards star tweeted a statement coming out as gay and saying he didn’t remember Rapp’s alleged incident and apologized “for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”
Family Guy, which did slip in an additional Spacey joke in a December episode, will celebrate a milestone on Jan. 14: a 300th episode.