"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane has scored big in the streaming sweepstakes with a sweet deal at NBCUniversal. With Netflix and Amazon upping the ante on talent deals, it's a great time to be a well-known TV producer, and Seth used his leverage for a $200 million deal that lets him do whatever he wants.
What Seth MacFarlane wants to do is make a television series based on Herman Wouk's epic World War II novels "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance."
Let that sink in. The jokester behind "Family Guy," "American Dad" and the foul-mouthed stuffed bear classic "Ted" gets to cash the big check and do a total 180, using that studio cash to make a "Winds of War" TV series, which he says is a lifelong dream.
"I can't think of a more exciting project with which to launch my creative partnership with UCP than Herman Wouk's 'The Winds of War,'" MacFarlane said. "I've been a devoted fan of Wouk's WWII epic for decades, and its depiction of small-scale human endurance in the face of large-scale global upheaval has never been more relevant than it is today."
Wouk, who died last year at age 103, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1952 for his novel "The Caine Mutiny." The novel was the basis for the blockbuster 1954 movie starring Humphrey Bogart. The film was nominated for 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Bogart.
"The Winds of War" (1971) and "War and Remembrance" (1978) came along two decades later. The pulpy novels followed the extended family of Victor "Pug" Henry in the years leading up to the United States' entry into World War II ("The Winds of War") and the war itself ("War and Remembrance").
The books were huge bestsellers and inspired a 1981 television miniseries that featured Robert Mitchum as Pug Henry. The all-star cast included Ali MacGraw, Jan-Michael Vincent, John Houseman, Ralph Bellamy, Polly Bergen and Peter Graves.
The seven-part ABC series was the highest-rated miniseries of all time when it aired and inspired the 1988 sequel "War and Remembrance." That show was a 30-hour epic that stands as the most ambitious network production ever. Mitchum returned to star but Ali MacGraw and Jan-Michael Vincent were replaced by Jane Seymour and Hart Bochner.
"The Winds of War" must have made quite the impression on 8-year-old Seth if he's spent the last four decades dreaming of a remake. The original features the kind of puffed-up narration and stilted acting that "Family Guy" loves to mock and it's frankly hard to imagine this particular guy giving the story the serious treatment it so desperately wants. MacFarlane will co-write and produce the new series.
"Family Guy" keeps chugging along on Fox, but fans hoping for new comedy gold from Seth might be waiting a while. NBCUniversal just announced a second project from MacFarlane, a limited series co-production with "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman about the "Little Rock Nine," the children at the center of the 1954 "Brown vs. Board of Education" Supreme Court desegregation ruling.
Neither of MacFarlane's new projects have a network or streaming home yet, but NBC, the new Peacock streaming service or cable channel USA seem like the most likely homes. A finished version of "The Winds of War" is at least a couple of years in the future so we'll have plenty of time to wait.
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