Dan Snierson
July 24, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Peter Griffin had every reason to shout ”Freakin’ sweet!” on the morning of July 16: Fox’s Family Guy nabbed an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, a feat that no animated show had managed since the Stone Age (read: 1961), when The Flintstones received a nod. So, how did this Guy get invited to the party? For one thing, he asked. Producers of prime-time animated shows face a hard choice: Submit your series for consideration against either live-action fare or fellow cartoons (including kids’ shows). Although they missed the final cut last year, producers of the buzzy Family Guy opted to make another run at the top comedy prize. Explains Family creator Seth MacFarlane, ”We figured, ‘What do we have to lose? We’re not getting anywhere in the animation category.”’ MacFarlane also hopes it will help promote a new Emmy world order, in which animated shows routinely compete against live-action ones. ”You should be judged on whether it’s funny or not,” he notes, ”not on what medium you’re working in.” Of course, the question remains: Why hasn’t The Simpsons — one of TV’s all-time greats — ever scored a best-comedy nom? After failing to earn a nod in live-action competition for seasons 4 and 5 (D’oh!), the Simpsons producers returned to the animated fold. ”Our choice was to go into a category where we thought we had a legitimate shot at winning,” notes exec producer Al Jean (who says he’s ”very happy” for Family Guy). And they’re not complaining. This year, Homer & Co. will be vying for their eleventh Outstanding Animated Program statue.

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