August 7, 2009 / 6:24 AM / 9 years ago

Fox aborts controversial "Family Guy" episode

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Fox has declined to air a “Family Guy” episode featuring a graphic depiction of an abortion, but it will come out on DVD.

Animated characters Stewie (L) and Brian from the series "Family Guy" are shown on the screen at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California September 16, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The episode, set to run next season, features matriarch Lois Griffin acting as a surrogate mother for an infertile couple. The couple is then killed in a car crash, leaving Lois with a tough decision.

The episode (titled “Partial Terms of Endearment”) is “very graphic, very morbid,” sources say, particularly about the abortion process.

It was originally supposed to conclude on a vague note, with Lois’ verdict left unclear. But creator Seth MacFarlane added a coda, with Lois’ husband Peter poking his head into the frame to tell viewers, “She had the abortion.”

Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly told TV critics on Thursday that the decision not to air the episode was driven by potential advertiser concerns.

“We don’t censor Seth,” Reilly said. “It was a business decision. It was fragile subject matter at a sensitive time.”

Asked what specifically was problematic about the episode, Reilly said there were a couple scenes that Fox suggested doing one way and MacFarlane opted for another.

“At that moment in time, there was a tough conversation going on with clients, and we didn’t need the headache,” he said.

MacFarlane said Reilly’s decision was fine with him.

“I’m in a position with Fox where I’m having sort of a golden age,” he said, “I trust (Reilly’s) decision implicitly.”

The episode will appear on the DVD for the show’s eighth season, which will likely reach stores next summer or fall.

The cast of "Family Guy" in an undated image. REUTERS/Seth McFarlane/Fox/Handout

Editing by Dean Goodman at Reuters

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