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Carol Burnett Sues Over "Family Guy" Gag

3/16/2007 3:25 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Peter Griffen, Carol BurnettComedian Carol Burnett is suing the FOX comedy "Family Guy" for using one of Burnett's signature characters and an altered version of her theme music without permission.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court yesterday, Burnett alleges that FOX requested permission to use "Carol's Theme" -- the theme music from "The Carol Burnett Show" -- in an episode of "Family Guy." When permission was denied, the lawsuit claims that FOX then went back and had the show rewritten to "disparage Ms. Burnett using Ms. Burnett's signature ear tug."

In the episode titled "Peterotica," the main character on "Family Guy," Peter, goes into a porn shop and remarks how clean it is. One of his friends says it is clean because "Carol Burnett works part-time as a janitor." The lawsuit says the camera then cuts to one of Burnett's signature characters from her TV show -- "Charwoman" -- wearing her "trademarked blue bonnet, bucket and mop" and "a slightly altered version of 'Carol's Theme' is playing."

Later in the scene, one character makes fun of Burnett's signature ear tug by saying, "She was really saying goodnight to her mom." To which another replies, "I wonder what she tugged to say goodnight to her dad." In fact, Burnett's ear tug was actually a hello to her grandmother.

Burnett claims this was all done without her permission or consent and is seeking in excess of $6 million in damages.

A statement from FOX reads: "'Family Guy,' like the 'Carol Burnett Show,' is famous for its pop culture parodies and satirical jabs at celebrities. We are surprised that Ms. Burnett, who has made a career of spoofing others on television, would go so far as to sue 'Family Guy' for a simple bit of comedy."


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I can't believe how mean some of you people are to each other.Everyone
is entitled to their own opinions. The big joke in here ishow
personally some of you attack others that you don't even know. What
joy does it bring to you attack another's opinions and postings?! It
is possible to love both The Family Guy and Carol Burnett without
resorting to attacking each other personally and resorting to such pettiness, isn't it?

2685 days ago

Just Another Hater    

47. As you might have guessed, that wasn't my post. But sure, I'm a cocky jerk. Why not?


2685 days ago


OMG get over it its all part of ur business! It should be a given that a celebrity will be spoofed!!! Duh you did it urself!

2685 days ago

Sean Bresnahan    

Carol reminds me of, you guessed it, Rosie O'Donnell. Something not so nice about them both. Off camera actions and statements and general demeanor says alot. This silly lawsuit reflects plenty on Carol. She should shout hosanna that anyone even remembers her. No class.

2685 days ago

Just Thinking    

WHOA! Two things here: FOX requested permission and when denied , violated copy right law as much as you might if you stole someone else's songs, or books. She is in her rights to deny their request and to sue. Next, for each of you too young to know some of the older actors, Carol Burnett is a main sponsor of a children's burn center... What have you done to give to your community??? (Art Linkletter paid for a modern outdoor track at a local college...It goes on with many of those actors and actressess quietly doing good in many simple ways. Don't live in a glass house.)

2685 days ago


Oh and by the way, be sure not to make a typo or accidently spell something incorrectly or they may start attacking that too if there isn't anything else to disagree with you on.

2685 days ago


I agree with the people who said she needs to lighten up and realize a joke when she sees one. What a washed-up wrinkly old hag-bitch.

And to those who think Family Guy is so crude, you're right!! Hahaha that's the best part of the show, you ignorant, close-minded facsists.

2685 days ago


Oh and HiJinxxx go hug a tree or something you free lovin' hippie or take your shit to Oprah.

2685 days ago


What stands for comedy today is vulgar and crude. To understand what true comedy is, the young people of today should see episodes of the Carol Burnett show, I Love Lucy, The Red Skelton Show, Bob Hope, etc. True Classics and real comedy at its finest. You go Carol.!!

2685 days ago


One more mention: A lot of people are saying that Carol Burnett has more talent than anyone involved with "Family Guy" and that she is entitled to some heightened sense of respect because of her Legendary status.

So says you.

The show is brilliant at making you laugh at their skewered views at society and celebrity in general. It is one of the only shows to be cancelled and then revived through unbelievable DVD sales and repeats airing on "Cartoon Network". It came back and it gets cosistent ratings on Sundays. Some of the "No Talent" actors/actresses that have worked on "Family Guy" : As I stated before, Betty White was a credited extra in the episode Burnett is suing over. I think this no talent has a pretty impressive resume that rivals Burnett's. Charles Durning lends his voice to Peter's father. Again, how dare that talentless hack. Peter's mother's voice is supplied by another veteran comedienne, Phyllis Diller. Many authors, much more famous than Burnett, have also lent their voices to the show. Among them Gore Vidal and the reclusive Thomas Pinchon. Luke Perry, by no means a legend, even played himself as gay on the show.

All of these famous people have allowed themselves to be subject to "Family Guy's" humor. I think those of you singing Carol Burnett's praises should be careful to know what "Family Guy" is, or at the absolute least what was actually in the episode being sued over, before hurling your uninformed invectives at its cast/crew.

See that - I made an intelligent comment without cussing. I think Carol Burnett should realize that her lawsuit will not succeed. Public figures put themselves up for public scrutiny and parody. There is no way she will get money damages -- or any respect -- from this suit.

2685 days ago


Great! Just because you don't agree with's your attack right on cue. Whatever!

2685 days ago



I did disagree with something else besides just spelling. I didn't feel that reprimanding people because of their grammar and vocabulary was necessary. is not an effective medium for changing the use of profanity in America.


I completely agree. A celebrity knows exactly what comes with the job he chooses.

2685 days ago

back in the day    

43. George RH:

But wouldn't you agree that the Carol Burnett Show paid for rights to those COPYRIGHT PROTECTED movies and characters.

I stand up for Carol Burnett. She has EARNED her right to be respected. Her televsion show is an institution in itself. IT deserves respect.

Her show entertained millions of viewers for several years and it never resorted to vulgarity and sexual innuendo. Rather, it depended on comic timing, excellent writing, musically talented artists, and wonderful actors with a wide range.

The program and Carol Burnett should not sit idly by and allow stupid shows like Family Guy -- a cartoon expressing little artistic mastery in animation AND in-studio talent for voices -- sully an excellent show like The Carol Burnett Show.

In this day and age, where people think the likes of one-note-song Adam Sandler is funny, comedians certainly don't warrant the respect that Carol deserves.

Posted at 3:27PM on Mar 16th 2007 by Texas Viewer

No, Carol did not 'pay' for the rights for that copyright protected movies. In our society we can parody anything, look at Jerry Falwell in playboy for goodness sake! Carol loved to parody anything!

As far as her show never resorted to sexual innuendo and vulgarity then that's not true. Of course in today's standards what she did on her show wasn't hardly anything but go back and look at all of them laughing when a boob on Harvey Korman went the wrong way, Carol Flirting with Lyle Wagner, etc. Lots of items like that went on! It wasn't in your face, like today, but it was there. At that time things like that was considered vulgar.

Using her Copyright Theme song was wrong without her permission even though they changed it around some.

I agree Carol is an icon and will always be. I also agree that most of todays comedians are no where near Carol Burnett and Tim Conway's level.

2685 days ago


It's a damn cartoon...and a funny one...maybe if she was still funny and popular she would feel the same!

2685 days ago


That is the most rediculous thing I have heard of. Isn't she dead yet? Good lord can't anyone take a joke. What is she broke so she has to sue someone to get some money back........ JUST PITIFUL

2685 days ago
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