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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."

180 COMMENTS

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76.

Charles N Acker    

iT IS TO SILLY TO COMMENT ON,THERE'S TO MANY SERIOUS THINGS GOING ON IN THIS WORLD TO WORRY ABOUT SUCH CHILDISH THINGS

2693 days ago
77.

Sean Bresnahan    

Kiki: Copyright infringement on what? A series that has been off the air forty years? Again, she should be grateful for the acknowledgement. She ain't no Lucy!

2693 days ago
78.

carol faires    

COME ON CAROL....LIGHTEN UP,,,,

2693 days ago
79.

ezze    

How sad. Someone that isn't on the news every day for not wearing panties or screwing every tom dick and harry in Hollywood is considered a has-been / nobody? Talent (past or present) is relevant today.

If you don't know who someone is, look them up; don't discard them as you would an empty carton. I'm part of the under 30 crowd and if I haven't heard of something I take the time to research it so that I don't make a quick disparaging remark which would make me end up looking uninformed and stupid.

What it basically boils to is this: Permission requested and denied but used anyways. Family Guy according to some of these posts was right in using her likeness and by law Carol Burnett has the right to sue. The courts will decide. People don't become comedians so that just anybody may use their likeness without permission and/or monetary compensation. Duh.

2693 days ago
80.

Jodie    

I remember when Family Guy made fun of Alyssa Milano and she actually played along. After the father says something about being higher than Alyssa Milano, they cut to Alyssa sitting on a coach watching. She turns to her lawyer and screams about suing them for it. Why cant more celebrities have fun with their fame like that?

2693 days ago
81.

Torrie    

I'm not knocking you Justin. I didn't see your post, I just thought for sure someone would jump all over my ass for some of my words being strung together. My posting had nothing to do with what you wrote. And I agree with you, about TMZ.com not being an effective medium for changing the use of profanity in America.

2693 days ago
82.

Daniel    

Family guy and south park are both funny and have great writing.
They have spoofed everyone in pop culture and no one has won a lawsuit. Pop culture = POPULAR culture. Carol Burnette is not popular
to anyone under the age of 30. She's washed up and just wants to get her name in the news.

2693 days ago
83.

Carol Fisher    

Call Carol Burnett a BITCH again because the meaning is BABE IN TOTAL CONTROL of HERSELF. Carol is an icon of showbusiness. She said NO! The Family Guy needs to find their own caracters and leave others alone. A lot of talk about Carol but she didn't have to use other comics lines or actions to get where she was in intertainment. Family Guy must have a problem with the show when they have to copy or use other comics material for a show.

2693 days ago
84.

carol faires    

COME ON CAROL,,,LIGHTEN UP,,,,YOUR OLD NOW...CAROL

2693 days ago
85.

Justin    

HiJinxx,

I'm sorry. I thought you were just indirectly commenting on what I had said earlier. Nonetheless, I'm glad you agree! TMZ is a place for entertainment, not for making improvements in society.

2693 days ago
86.

Torrie    

Rock on Justin!!!

2693 days ago
87.

Wendy    

Carol you big fat hypocrite, you should be flattered Family Guy mentioned you at all, because you were never funny. Most people think you're dead, so enjoy your unexpected celebrity.

2693 days ago
88.

RL    

Ms. Burnett has every right to sue Fox if her claims are true. You cannot produce anyone's intellectual property or use their likeness and make money off of it without having secured the right(s) to do so. FOX is an entertainment studio conglomerate and they know better.

2693 days ago
89.

old uncle joe    

I agree with Michael, i'm not a prude, I loved richard pryor, red fox, eddie murphy and all the comics considerred x-rated - but for generations Carol Burnett kept millions of people laughing, howling, doubling over with laughter that brought us to tears - one of the most talented and unique performers of the last 100 years. And did it without ever uttering a dirty word or performing a mean spirited sketch about anyone. If you never heard of her - you missed out - and if these talentless hacks who call themselves comedy writers can't respect the people who created sketch comedy on TV
then shame on them - Carols career lasted nearly half a century - these guys will be forgotten in a year or two tops.

2693 days ago
90.

Argh!!!    

I thought posting a comment was about expressing your opinion on a particular topic. Reading through this site sounds like a freaking chat room.

2693 days ago
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