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Seth MacFarlane, wunderkind creator of Family Guy, hack behind American Dad, and just-phoning-it-in-by-now producer of The Cleveland Show, has been tagged to oversee the return of beloved cartoon icon and pioneering animated TV series The Flintstones to the small screen. MacFarlane, who famously had his first show, a cult favourite and critical darling, cancelled, only to see it returned to television, stupider and lazier than ever before, after huge sales of its DVD set and wide public outcries forced his network to reconsider its decision, is thrilled to be involved in the project. “I’m a huge fan, of course,” MacFarlane said, noting that “none of us [at his production studio] would be here today without The Flintstones… it’s just such a huge influence and inspiration… when I get too many accusations of just copying The Simpsons I can always look back at Fred Flintstone and know that we’re all copying from the masters of Hanna-Barbera, and the best part is that my fans are so young and stupid they don’t even know we’re copying because they’ve never heard of The Flintstones [trademark smarmy, squinty-eyed grin]!”

The Flintstones, a touchstone of early TV culture, originally ran for six seasons between 1960 and 1966, and has enjoyed a long life in syndication ever since. Big-screen, live-action remakes were made in the 1990s, but MacFarlane is distancing himself from those efforts. “I love cartoons, period. It’s what I’m good at; it’s what I know. Also, after that embarrassing cabaret special in which the voice actors appeared on stage, I’m contractually obligated to never show my face when doing character voices again… it’s far too creepy, I’ve been told.” *

Fans of the original cartoon should not worry that updating the show will upset the original formula of great characters and gentle satire, MacFarlane says. “I wouldn’t dream of messing with a classic like this–it’s a huge honour, after all. I see it being basically the same show, with slight tweaks to make the references more meaningful for a modern audience.

“In my version, for example, Fred will work in a factory, not a quarry. And Wilma won’t just be stay-at-home mom–she’ll have a job, too. Those are just the realities of the twenty-first century, and The Flintstones was, despite its setting in the Stone Age, always a satire about modern life. I won’t change that. Oh, and I’m going to replace Dino with women getting punched in the face.”

* ed. note: This seems to be a legal grey area, since MacFarlane’s “normal” voice is instantly recognizable as being essentially indistinguishable from any number of his characters. The latest court ruling clarifies that MacFarlane cannot identify himself in public as one of his characters through such catchphrases as “What the deuce?!” Appeals are pending.

Steve Guttenberg: charming, funny, devastatingly handsome, box office gold.  It’s hard to believe that all of that was being said about Guttenberg twenty-five years ago.  Back then, he had it all; now, despite steady work, a happy family life, a beautiful home, and being at peace with himself, he often sits fully clothed in his bathtub for hours on end wondering, “What the hell happened?”

Diner, The Day After, Police Academy 1-4, Three Men and a Baby, Cocoon… some of the most forgettable blockbusters of the 1980s, thanks to the star at their centre, Steve Guttenberg.  Many people vaguely remember the boyish grin; more remember the reference to the actor in the Stonecutters song on the Simpsons (“Who made Steve Guttenberg a star?”) although even that was fifteen years ago. Then, Guttenberg could laugh self-deprecatingly at a career that seemed to have temporarily lost its way.  Now, still in the wilderness, the joke haunts him.  “Was it Don’t Tell Her It’s Me?  Was that what killed my career?  I don’t know… I just don’t know…” the actor muses, trailing off, his eyes getting that far-away look that in his heyday passed for sensitivity.

While Guttenberg has continued to be a working actor, he is most proud of his efforts to help others less fortunate.  To that end, he has created Guttenhouse, an apartment complex he has funded to accommodate young people after their graduation from foster child status.  “Not everyone has the opportunity to have not one, but three amazing fathers, each with their own strengths, who could come together as friends and human beings to raise an orphan, even though they were unsure whether or not they were the real father… like in my hit 1987 film Three Men and a Baby, or its popular sequel Three Men and a Little Lady… not everyone can be that lucky… so lucky… what happened to those times…?  So lucky…”

Looking ever forward, Guttenberg has plans to combine his faith and star power to market a product available exclusively on QVC starting in February: bibles.  “There’s a real yearning in America for the values we grew up with, harkening back to simpler times when things were so much clearer–the 1980s. It was a great time for America, and it was a great time for me, and that’s why I’ve teamed up with QVC to offer something that reflects my belief in the redeeming, resurrective power of Our Saviour… Guttenberg Bibles, personally endorsed by me, Steve Guttenberg.  I don’t know why, but the name just sounds right.”

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