News from the yellow carpet: Simpsons ride launches at Universal Studios
I went to Universal Studios in Hollywood on Saturday for the revealing of The Simpsons Ride. Celebs walked the "yellow" carpet. The mayor welcomed the crowds and led the countdown. A human cannonball was shot into the air. And a yellow sheet dropped to reveal a 32-foot Krusty the Clown face at the entrance to the attraction.
Despite the launch being for The Simpsons, there were hardly any members of the cast there on the yellow carpet. Kelsey Grammer (Sideshow Bob) was there along with creator Matt Groening and producer James L. Brooks but no other voice talents were anywhere to be found. See who I talked to and read more about the ride unveiling after the jump.
Gallery: The Simpsons Ride
Let me start by telling you who was supposed to be on the yellow carpet: Kelsey Grammer, Lisa Kudrow, Paula Abdul, Anna Paquin, Judd Apatow, Chris Gorham, Eddie Steeples, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lucy Lawless and Kevin Smith. Most of these people weren't even there (although I did overhear that Lisa Kudrow had arrived). Kelsey Grammer was there but I only saw him standing with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and the mayor at the actual launch. I believe they were the first to ride the attraction. There were some celebrities at the unveiling but very few actually came down the yellow carpet -- very disappointing, I must say.
The ride showcases everything the show is known for: great story, irreverent humor, and lovable characters. On the ride, guests are swept into Krustyland where Sideshow Bob has escaped from prison and is looking to take revenge on Krusty. You actually walk into the ride through Krusty's mouth (on his extended tongue ... Ew). Sadly, press wasn't allowed on the ride so I can't tell you first hand what it's like. I still don't know if it's an indoor coaster or what.
Matt Groening introduced the ride. "This is an attraction that's going to make you squeal. It's going to make you scream. It's going to make you laugh. It's going to make you gargle. And hopefully nothing else! I hope you dig this ride. I know I do." After the mayor of Los Angeles led the countdown, a human cannonball shot out onto a large net in front of the crowd.
But back to the red carpet, er, I mean, yellow carpet. While most celebrities just waved at the press and skirted on through, a few did stop to chat. I talked to Larry Birkhead (not a real celebrity, I know), Corbin Benson (Psych), Melina Kanakarades (CSI), Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper), Rachel Fox (Desperate Housewives), & Fred Willard (Back to You, Anchorman).
First up was Larry Birkhead. He's Anne Nicole Smith's baby-daddy for those of you who don't follow the tabloids. Birkhead was asked if he liked coming to to theme parks: "I am a big theme park fan. I haven't had a chance to go to a lot of them lately because of Danni-Lynn but we make a theme park at home. We have our own theme park."
But since little Danni-Lynn is under the 40-inch requirement, she won't be enjoying The Simpsons Ride. Birkhead joked, "I tried to put high heels on her but they wouldn't go for it."
About Anna Nicole's love of the show, Birkhead says, "Her mom was a big Simpsons fan and her brother was. When I got into her mom's car this morning, she has the Simpsons steering wheel covers and seat covers. So it was a lot of fun watching those with her. It's kind of bittersweet. But the Simpsons are always great."
And which character is Larry most like? Birkhead smiled, "I was mischievous like Bart. When I was little, I set the school on fire. And I got suspended and I had to sweep the parking lot where all of my friends were in their cars and I had to get every cigarette but off the parking lot."
Next through the yellow carpet was Corbin Bernsen who was there with his family. I asked him about his new movie he directed, Dead Air: "It's done. It's being edited. It's very cool." I also asked him what the movie was about, "Dead Air is about a DJ in a big city when the terrorists attack and leave a virus that turns people into maniacs." Sounds interesting...
Like Anna Nicole Smith, Benson is a fan of the show, "I like the Simpsons yeah." He says he's most like Homer. "I like Homer because that's ME," he jested.
Melina Kanakarades only stopped for one question as she was ushered through the press area. Someone asked her about her favorite Simpsons character. She answered, "Actually, Bart Simpson because he's deliciously cute and mischievous but he has the best heart ever. And then I would have to say it's a close second with Marge because we both have big hair. Mine's not blue, but I really get what she goes through."
Holly Robinson Peete stopped to talk to the press about being a mom in Hollywood. Here's her advice for all the new celebrity moms: "Get your kids on a schedule. And try not to be a wimp about it. I've done it both ways."
What's the hardest thing about being a Hollywood mom? Robinson Peete laughs, "The hardest thing is coming to a big event like this and making your kids behave on the carpet."
I also got to chat with Rachel Fox who plays little devious Kayla on Desperate Housewives. She didn't reveal too much about the finale, "I wish I could tell you! I wish I could tell you. I'll just say that she does do even more evil things."
Fox loves having a meatier role this season, "I absolutely love it! I love just being someone who I'm not. That's really the whole thing of acting, just being someone who you're not. And it's such a great challenge for me."
Felicity Huffman, Fox's onscreen stepmom, is Fox's favorite person to work with: "Everyone's different, you know. I love working with Ms. Felicity Huffman because every time, when I watch her, I just learn something from her. She's totally amazing."
She even shared about the famous slap scene from last Sunday's episode. "One time it was really funny because when we were shooting the slap scene with Felicity I got a little bit scared the first time because I didn't actually want her to make contact. So I kept turning my head a little too early. But after awhileI got used to it and it turned out well," recalls Fox.
But does she like The Simpsons, the show of the day? "I've never seen The Simpsons before," she blushed. Instead Rachel Fox watches a lot of shows on Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel. She loves Hannah Montana and enjoyed getting to met Miley Cyrus when she appeared on the show.
Finally, I got to speak to Fred Willard. I asked if he knew about the fans of Back to You sending water bottles to the networks. He was confused as to what the water bottles symbolize but added, "Anyone who watches the show and cares enough about us to do that is just great."
Willard is ready for an Anchorman sequel. "I'm for it. Sign me up! That would be great. I love working with Will Ferrell and all those people. He's a great guy to work with," he exclaimed.
But in the meantime, Fred Willard will be lending his voice to Wall-E, a Pixar movie due out in June. Who is he playing? "I can't tell. It's a secret. They've asked me not to say what I do it in but I cause a lot of the trouble in the movie."
I don't think this is the last we'll see of Willard's voice over work. About working in an animated movie or series, he says, "I love it, yeah. You don't have to put on make-up. You come in. You read. You go home."
And he was excited for the ride. He joked, "They're putting me in the front car. If I survive it, it's good. I'm the crash test dummy."
So, if you're ever in Los Angeles, check out Universal Studios. It's a great theme park and I'm sure The Simpsons Ride will be fun.