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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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91.

Stacy    

I totally agree with Fox... I mean my god, she did make a career of spoofing others on television now she doesnt want it done to her! What a sucky baby! Guess she needs a refill on the bank account! Loser!

2722 days ago
92.

Me    

Family Guy is hysterical! If she did the same type of gig making fun of people, then what is she bitching about? Can dish it out, but can't take it?
If you don't think Family Guy is funny, then u have no sense of humor!!!

2722 days ago
93.

Just Another Hater    

You can always count on Jesus to bring things into focus...

2722 days ago
94.

Evan    

I hate it when celeb's go money hungry. All they did was make fun of her and shes suing for 6million!!!! Give me a break, in that case i should sue everyone i went to school with or anyone who Ive said "stop copying me" to. I used to have respect for Carol but now she just needs to get over herself.

2722 days ago
95.

old uncle joe    

Hey JESUS - be careful spewing that kind of trash under that nickname - you may have to answer to the real one someday - obviously you are ignorant - probably a young or pre teen little punk with no friends - or you'd be with them instead of pissing on the grownups.

2722 days ago
96.

Lee    

I know this is not a popular opinion but I was never that crazy about Carol Burnett. Her talent is definitely over-rated. She certainly seems to enjoy suing people a lot! I guess now that her 'glory' days are over she's determined to make $ that way! Hey Carol!? What's the matter? Can't anyone be funny but you?! BORING...You should be sued for being irritating and having NO SENSE OF HUMOR!

2722 days ago
97.

ross    

dont mess with Carol...DONT FUCKING MESS WITH PETER!

2722 days ago
98.

Judy Foster    

Let's address the facts:
Carol Burnett has been highly praised for her long running tv show, her roles in several hit movies, her Broadway roles, her guest starring roles in many tv shows, performances at Carnegie Hall. She can sing,dance, you name it. She is also very intelligent and every bit a lady. She did sue one of the tabloids and won and established a scholarship fund for acting students.
Now the errors:
Some of you make nasty comments about a celebrity, someone else addresses your comments as if they came from the celebrity and then start to demean her for saying such awful things. This is exactly what Carol Burnett is bringing suit about. A writer takes a very poignant and treasured signal to a family member and changes it. Then proceeds to infringe on copyrights. Don't blame Carol Burnett or attack her body of work because someone broke the law. If we all thought about the old adage "if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all" we would have fewer law suits and maybe a more caring and dignified society. JF

2722 days ago
99.

linda lou    

Family Guy is one of the worst shows on TV. Poorly written, poorly drawn, it pales in comparison to Fox's other shows that are decent. Carol Burnett sued because Fox broke the law and violated copyright.

She is far more talented than anyone on that show or even involved with the show. Her sketches were, for the most part, intelligent and humorous. I've tried to watch Family Guy numerous times and see no humor in it. Makes no sense, has little in the way of comedy or decent plot line, and just out and out sucks.

You go girl! Sue the jerks.

2722 days ago
100.

Michelle    

Sounds like Carol nees to shut up and go find herself a good piece of ass!! Lighten Up Carol!!

2722 days ago
101.

Dooz    

CAROL BURNETT is a thousand times funnier than that fucking, pathetic, lame, not funny, shitty piece of crap.... that only RETARDS find funny...

I hope they CANCEL that god awful show... why did FOX ever pick this piece of shit out of the gutter, when it was already rotting away in the stagnation where it belonged?

Hmm... just because a few, no brain IDIOTs petitioned to bring it back...?
Pathetic

2722 days ago
102.

Paul    

One time, long ago, I was a minor TV "celebrity,". and sued a well-known comedian for saying nasty and deprecating things about me on TV. The case was thrown out of court. Apparently, "celebrities", such as I was, can be slimed (read that as "criticized") by anyone mean-spirited enough to want to do it one the air!. For Carol Burnett, a very big star, although a faded star, a bit of mocking, ironic, negative humor should, by now, be acceptable to her. It was OK, apparently, when she and her cast did quite similar stuff to others. But, Carol must have a short and selective memory..

2722 days ago
103.

Darrell    

I TEND TO AGREE THAT FAMILY GUY SHOULDNT HAVE USED THE BIT WITHOUT HER PERMISSION I GREW UP WATCHING THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW AND SHE WAS TRULY A TV ICON WE LOOKED FORWARD TO SEEING HER SHOW EACH WEEK PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO LEAN THAT NO MEANS NO

2722 days ago
104.

Smurf    

Family Guy sucks, they can't seem to make enough jokes to fill an entire episode these days, so they let shitty punch lines stretch way too long. God forbid they every make a movie.

Carol Burnett is a comic genius.

2722 days ago
105.

David    

I love Family Guy! BUT...Carol is an American Treasure! She was mentored by the late great Lucille Ball! Carol represents a time of class and dignity, while at the same time, making us laugh and not at the expense of others. Carol always left something to the imagination. Let's give her a break she's getting up in years. I suggest all of you check some of the clips of her old shows. I think you might find out what you've REALLY been missing. She's awesome!

2722 days ago
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