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‘Family Guy’ Writers Explain How That 2005 Kevin Spacey Joke Passed Fox’s Standards & Practices

TCA 2018: Seth MacFarlane and Alec Sulkin try to remember who even pitched the quip

Seth MacFarlane and the “Family Guy” writers slipped a Kevin Spacey sexual misconduct joke by America back in 2005 — but how did they get it passed network Standards & Practices? The gang was asked exactly that Thursday at the cartoon’s Television Critics Association press tour panel, which followed a live-read for an upcoming episode.

“I don’t remember who pitched the joke,” MacFarlane said. “I remember when it was pitched… that was a rumor that I had actually not heard and other people in the writer’s room had. And it had to be sort of explained to me that there was this rumor that was going around.”

“I was there and I too do not remember who pitched it, which means I did not pitch it,” showrunner Alec Sulkin said. “That was something where he was coming out of this story where I think [Spacey] had sort of beaten up in a London Park, and he claimed he had been walking his dog late at night and had fell. And I think that raised a lot of eyebrows.”

In the episode, Stewie, the baby of the show’s family, is seen running through a crowded department store naked, yelling, “Help! I’ve escaped from Kevin Spacey’s basement! Help me!”

“It’s one of the things in terms of Standards where if they heard the rumors as we have, then they’ll allow it,” Sulkin said.

“That’s one standard — if there’s some rumor out there that’s been public,” fellow showrunner Rich Appel said. “The other one is if it seems so outrageous that no one could possibly believe [it] — some of those have passed too.”

Watch the Spacey joke from “Family Guy” via the video above.