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The TV Column: 'Family Guy' actor speaks out against Palin joke

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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not everyone who works on the Fox animated sitcom "Family Guy" is standing in solidarity with its Valentine's Day episode's Sarah Palin joke.

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Cast member Patrick Warburton told TV critics Wednesday he objected to the flippant reference to Palin as the parent of a child with Down syndrome.

"I know it's satire but, personally, that [joke] bothered me, too," Warburton said on a conference call to promote his other prime-time show, the CBS sitcom "Rules of Engagement," which returns for a fourth season on March 1. (On "Family Guy," Warburton does the voice of Joe, a police officer who uses a wheelchair.)

"I know that you have to be an 'equal-opportunity offender,' but there are some things that I just don't think are funny," Warburton said.

The former Alaska governor/GOP vice presidential contender and her daughter Bristol lashed out at the show and at the "Fox Hollywood" network over the episode, in which a teenage girl character with Down syndrome says her mother was a former governor of Alaska. Sarah Palin's youngest son has the same condition. Series creator Seth MacFarlane shrugged it off with a statement about the show being an "equal-opportunity offender."

Even the actress who played the character with Down syndrome, Andrea Fay Friedman, got into the act. Friedman, who also has Down syndrome, sent an e-mail to the New York Times last week saying, "I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor.

"I thought the line 'I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska' was very funny," the newspaper reports Friedman said in her e-mail. "I think the word is 'sarcasm.' "

Warburton is the first person involved with the show in any way, shape or form who has publicly broken ranks.

"Look, I have fun. I like Seth. He's got a great comic mind and I think that the show can be fantastically funny. But I do believe that it can be hurtful at times," Warburton said in response to a question about the episode posed by The Post's Emily Yahr.

The situation was bound to happen, given that "Family Guy," being a cartoon, is given a longer leash than any live-action comedy, Warburton speculated.

"A show like that . . . is going to offend everybody at one point or another," the actor said.

"My mother actually believes my soul's in peril for being on the show," he added.


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