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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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Sean Bresnahan    

Besides, the important thing is Regis is doing fine after his heart surgery. We love you Reege!

2748 days ago


Come on Carol! You should be flattered that Family Guy choose to parody you. We haven't heard much from you lately and that was a very funny bit. It reminded us of your wonderful show. You don't need the money and this makes you look like a grumpy senior citizen who has lost her sense of humor.

2748 days ago

Wabda H. Nicholas    

I really do not understand derogatory comments. One can disagree without being derogatory or vulgar. I believe Carol B. showed her talent in years past. I don´t know if she still performs or not. She was very good. I live in México and really do not follow the pabloids. I never knew what the tug of the ear meant. Now that it has been explained I believe it is a lovely sentiment.

If somebody copies a "trademark" without consent in my opinion it is not correct. I wish Miss Burnett would come to México and do a Charity show for one of the needy causes I work with. I am from the U. S. (Texas) but have lived in México for 23 years.

I cannot believe I am responding to something that just came up on my screen. It is not something I normally do and these screens do not normally appear.

2748 days ago


Ummm. YEAH! Family Guy's producers are getting rich off of degrading one of the funniest women in history by using her gags! She has every right to sue Fox. And they will settle because they know she will win. They will most likely settle in the neighborhood of 30 to 50% of what she is asking for. Friggin retards who watch family guy anyway.

2748 days ago

Carol M.    

If Carol did not give permission for the show to be connected with hers.....well....she has the right!! What makes the producers of the show think they don't have to abide by the same laws as everyone else? If we used a part of their show to make any product look better or to promote our product...they would have our butt in court....before we could wiggle our butts!! Way to go Carol!!!!

2748 days ago


Carol should feel lucky she is even getting any attention ,old bitch!!!!

2748 days ago


Just here to lend my support in favor of Carol Burnett. Not here to say anything against Family Guy. (I've never seen it, am I missing something)? Love South Park though and they take a stab at everyone. The Tom Cruise episode was hilarious!
# 91 shiny1nut in response to Jesus is also hilarious and it's all making me laugh so hard, just when I needed it!

Peace peeps! Be good to each other and especially to Carol Burnett. She deserves every ounce of respect & love for all the good she does in this world. Wiki her and see.


2748 days ago

Mary Jane Burris    

If "family guy" wasn't hurting for funny material they would not have to steal from another comedian. I'll take an hour of Carol Burnett over five minutes of Family Guy. People who watch have way too much time on their hands.

2748 days ago


They deserve whatever comes their way. They obviously knew the "rules," since they asked for permission in the first place. Thus, I am sure they will get slapped pretty hard when all is said and done. I do not blame Ms. Burnette for not wanting her name or trademarks associated with this show; it is garbage.

2748 days ago


I pretty much agree with the kind comments about Carol B. I do remember her show somewhat when I was growing up as a kid. Does anyone know if her show is on TV-land or another syndicated channel? If so, I would appreciate hearing about it. Thank you.

2748 days ago

Suzanne Bruce    

that ear tug, unless she copyrighted it.. is fair game.. they disparage everyone else, what makes her so special??? She should call and try to get a speaking gig out of it!!

2748 days ago

tired of it all    

It is a shame that the ignorant masses that post on here don't realize who Carol is. She has timing, class and elegance that the comics of today are sorely lacking. Take your heads out of your backsides and watch her shows, they are well written, never vicious and always entertaining. It is a shame that we no longer have that quality on televisions shows now. As a forenote, I'm only 40 so I'm not that old that I would fart dust and not young enough to think that what is out now is funny.

2748 days ago


I guess the reason a lot of people are willing to accept the comedy now is because they don't remember when comedy was actually funny. Instead of using bathroom humor and insults they used their brains and came up with something that made people laugh. And no, I'm not old. I love Carol Burnett...I hope she wins her case!

2748 days ago


I though the guy wh played Herman Munster died. I didnt know he had red hair ! Lighten the f%$# up Carol ! Its humor !!!! Seth McFarlane made statements about, and in front of , the President of Harvaard University and no lawsuits were filed. Very much at the expense of the dignity of the President of Harvaard Univeristy (see Seth addresses Harvaard on Youtube) . Lighten the f%$# up Carol !

2748 days ago

just asking    

What is the problem people.

She owns the right to her music. They asked she said no...move on to the bank and get her check for 6 million. Do the right thing in the future. FOX you stop whining becuz you didnt get your way.

Way to go Ms. Burnett

2748 days ago
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