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Family Guy, Mr. Buckley's Jackson Impression


RUSH:  Michael.  Birmingham, Alabama.  Great to have you, sir.  Hello.

CALLER:  Hey, Rush.  Thanks a lot for having me on your how.

RUSH:  You bet.

CALLER:  I've been listening to you for a year this month.  My brother Patrick got me to listen to you.  I've been hooked ever since.  But I have two Open Line Friday questions for you.

RUSH:  All right.

CALLER:  Question one is, I know you've been on Family Guy a few different times, and I was wondering, what was it like working with Seth and his crew?  Did it feel a little hostile?  I could imagine Seth was probably pretty professional, but I just didn't know if you got glares going in or if they would always give you a hard time or anything, or was it a friendly atmosphere.

RUSH:  It's always been much more than professional, it's always been extremely friendly and really respectful.  The first time they called and asked me to lend my voice to the program, and I was able to do it with a high speed phone connection, and they were on the other end of the phone doing the direction. It was Seth and one of his assistants. They were just as complimentary and appreciative as anybody, maybe even more so.  The last time that I appeared on Family Guy I actually spent a whole day in the studio with Seth.  He was doing the other voices, and I was doing mine. 

The first time I met him there's a little standoff curiosity, but that melted away, and there was no friction, there was no stress.  He was entirely complimentary.  He probably tells everybody this, but he said, "This is some great work.  You wouldn't believe what we get coming in here.  People want to get in here and get outta here and don't spend much time, but this is just a great body of work.  I can't tell you how much we appreciate it."  Then we went over and did a video interview that would be used to promote the episode a year later when it ran.  When I had my faux heart attack, which was not a heart attack, but that's what it was reported as being, in Hawaii, one of the first five people I heard from was Seth MacFarlane. 

In fact, the day I was out there actually doing the work for the episode that was about me, he was a little late coming in because he bought a house and it was being remodeled and we were sharing stories about the pain and suffering everybody goes through doing that.  I gathered it was his first time in a major construction project.  When he did the Academy Awards this past year he was getting all kinds of grief, and I sent him a couple of notes, couple of attaboy notes, and so forth. He wrote right back.  I got a note back from him while they were going on. I sent him a quick text during the Academy Awards and during a commercial break he got back to me.  I haven't spoken to him since, but every time I have been around Seth MacFarlane it has been entirely professional and much more than that.

CALLER:  Well, that's great.  I can always tell, it always seems like he has such a great time and he just never seemed like one of those foaming at the mouth liberals or anything. You know he's liberal but I can still respect him for --

RUSH:   I think he thinks I'm a nut. (laughing) I think he thinks I'm "one of them." I'm "one of those," but for the time we were working together, he was a professional.  The time we were working we had a mutual objective and he put it aside, it didn't matter.  And he doesn't hold it against me -- and the fact that he's a "commie bastard" (laughing) doesn't bother me, either.  It really doesn't.  I mean, I listen to these people talk about getting along and compromise and so forth. I do it every day with people on the left.  I could write a book on how it's done and the people that I deal with, 'cause there's not very many of them, but I have some decent relationships with them.  But we don't talk politics.  We've never, ever talked politics, never, not once.

CALLER:  That's great.

RUSH:  Just a couple of aside jokes, you know, like I gave him grief, "How could you write this, thinking what you think?  How could you possibly make me look good in this show?  Don't you realize what's gonna happen to you?"  And he said, "Let it happen.  I love stirring it up."  So it was fun.

CALLER:  That's great.  I have one more quick Open Line Friday question.  I've always noticed that whenever -- and I always laugh when you do this.  You always happen to refer to "the, uh, Reverend Jackson" that certain way.  I love it every time you do that.  I was curious why you say it like that.

RUSH:  That's the way Mr. Buckley -- William F. Buckley Jr. interviewed Jesse Jackson on Firing Line, his old PBS show, multiple times.  But the one time I saw it -- Buckley sat in an office chair that leaned back so far you thought he was gonna fall over backwards on it.  And he had a clipboard, he had his legs crossed and he had a clipboard, and in order to see his guest he had to look down his nose at 'em.  His head's so high in the air, and he's looking, and you just know that he knows he's talking to a buffoon.  But he's William F. Buckley and so he's treating this guy with respect.  And his normal speech pattern (Buckley impression), "Well, tell me, uh, uh, uh, Reverend Jackson..." and of course he'd ask the question in that erudite way, and Jackson would come back with some of his rhyme mumbo jumbo. 

It was just classically funny to me.  I never knew whether or not Buckley was trying to be funny, because he pronounced everybody's names that way.  I remember when I got in an argument when I appeared on Firing Line.  Women in combat was the issue.  I made some joke that I thought was gonna make him laugh uproariously, and he looked at me and he got abrasive, "Come on, now, Rush, we're talking about declared hostilities in one sense versus whatever." I think he was dead serious with everybody he ever spoke to.  And I don't know that he was making fun of Jackson, but I interpreted it that way. 

You know, I'm a mimic.  When I hear things that amuse me, I try to copycat 'em, and the way he said, "the, uh, Reverend Jackson," was just hilarious to me.  And part of the deal was that Jackson didn't react to it, just answered with his mumbo jumbo rhyme stuff while Buckley is Mr. Erudite, classic communicator, and I thought the contrast of that could not have been greater.  I don't think Jesse Jackson understood one question that Buckley asked him, by virtue of his answers.



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