Just as John Hughes' teen hero saw his lifestyle threatened by a relentless principal, Seth MacFarlane, the 25-year-old creator of Fox's Family Guy, finds himself being put to the test by his old prep-school headmaster.
Except this time instead of a ditch day, bundles in potential ad revenue are at stake.
Here's the lowdown: On Tuesday, Fox revealed that the leader of an anti-Family Guy movement was the headmaster and rector of the Connecticut-based Kent School--the very same Connecticut-based Kent School once attended by MacFarlane.
MacFarlane graduated from Kent in 1991. (An old email address for the animator is still listed in the alumni online directory.) Additionally, MacFarlane's mom worked at the school's admissions office for 15 years.
"Worked" is the proper verb form to describe Mother MacFarlane's tenor of employment at Kent because the woman recently resigned, reportedly in protest of the Proud Sponsors USA movement.
What's Proud Sponsors USA? A one-man organization established by Kent headmaster Richardson W. Schell. Its mission? To lobby advertisers to boycott MacFarlane's Family Guy.
His former student's toon series is "anti-Semitic," not to mention "demeaning to the handicapped," alcoholics and AIDS patients, a Schell-drafted letter charges, according to published reports.
So far Schell has succeeded in getting four advertisers, including Philip Morris and fast-food chain KFC, to divorce themselves from Family Guy. Schell has taken credit for getting another 12 companies to pledge not to buy time on the show.
What's Schell's beef with MacFarlane? The headmaster was said to be in Europe until Sunday and unavailable for comment. No comment yet from MacFarlane.
One popular theory to the Bueller-ian feud is that Schell is upset that Family Guy revolves around a family name of Griffin. Griffin also is the surname of a Kent School employee who works in Schell's office. (The Griffin in question could not be reached for comment.)
The story goes that the week before Family Guy premiered on Super Bowl Sunday last January 31, Schell telephoned MacFarlane and asked him to change his TV family's name. MacFarlane maintained that the Griffins were not based on any real-life people. The name stayed, but the controversy apparently was born.
On April 12, the day after Family Guy debuted in its regular, weekly time slot, Schell sent out his first batch of Proud Sponsors USA letters, Fox said.
In a greeting posted on the Kent School's Website (www.kent.pvt.k12.ct.us), Schell, an Episcopal priest, promises that at his boarding school, "you will make lifelong friends and learn to get along with people who have had experiences different from yours."
Family Guy, featuring the voices of MacFarlane and Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Seth Green, will air at 9 p.m. on Thursdays in the fall.