Microsoft Pulls Out of ‘Family Guy’ Special

Software giant claims it had no idea the Fox hit featured tasteless humor. Will the show still go on?

Apparently the folks at Microsoft have never seen an episode of "Family Guy."

The software giant Monday confirmed that it’s pulled its exclusive sponsorship of next month’s "Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show." The reason, according to Variety.com: Microsoft was shocked….shocked the half-hour special would feature so much risque content.

"We initially chose to participate in the Seth and Alex variety show based on the audience composition and creative humor of ‘Family Guy,’ but after reviewing an early version of the variety show it became clear that the content was not a fit with the Windows brand," a Microsoft spokesperson told TheWrap via email.

Variety reports that next month’s special includes jokes about incest, feminine hygiene and the Holocaust. In other words, pretty standard "Family Guy" fare.

Perhaps the Microsoft camp figured Team Seth MacFarlane would self-censor, that the producers would just instinctively understand that a good corporate citizen such as Microsoft would never want to be associate with the oh-no-they-didn’t comedy for which "Family Guy" is known.

Or, again, perhaps the gang in Redmond has never watched the show.

In any event, Fox insiders said the network still plans on airing "Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show." What’s more, it’s expected the network will still present the half-hour without traditional commercial breaks and with the sole sponsorship of a yet-to-be-named company.

We’re nominating Axe, the makers of young dude-friendly "body sprays" and other manly cosmetics. Their ads are already over-the-top, and their target audience is the same as that which watches "Family Guy."

Or perhaps … Apple? 

Microsoft made sure to note that it will continue to work with Fox and its corporate partners to promote Windows 7. It also said it still believes in getting its messages out in nontraditional ways.

"We continue to have a good partnership with Fox, Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein and are working with them in other areas," the Microsoft spokesperson told TheWrap. "We continue to believe in the value of brand integrations and partnerships between brands, media companies and talent."

"Family Guy" is expected to remain a part of Microsoft’s marketing plans, with a 12-week college campus tour still in the works.

But this whole mess does point out the difficulties that arise when Madison Avenue is allowed into the process of shaping creative content.

Last week, former Fox boss Sandy Grushow, speaking at the Digital Hollywood conference, told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman he had heard there were growing pains between MacFarlane’s renegade style and the buttoned-up Microsoft. 

Fox declined comment.

Microsoft’s MSN unit and TheWrap last month announced a content partnership.