The 2009 Creativity 50: Seth MacFarlane

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Last year was big for this baby-faced RISD grad. He signed a $100 million deal with Fox that will keep The Family Guy and American Dad! on the network until 2012—and will reportedly make MacFarlane the highest paid TV writer in history. He also received a full season order for Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show. Not bad, considering Fox canned Family Guy in 2002—citing poor ratings—only to bring it back in 2005 after DVD sales signaled strong demand for the show.

Most importantly this year, however—from a sign-of-things-to-come perspective—the 35-year-old launched Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy, an ambitious, web-only series with backing from Google and sponsorship support from Burger King, among others. While Cavalcade's impact on MacFarlane's personal fortune might be small (at least for now), its effect on content distribution models could be far-reaching. Fifty two-minute shorts are being distributed to sites via Google's AdSense network, with advertisers paying a premium to be packaged with this original content. Google and MacFarlane split the revenues, and if a short catches fire, MacFarlane has yet another idea to sell to Fox. Everyone wins, except for the TV networks, which have to be nervous to see Google stepping so squarely on their turf.

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