"Believe me, we don't look at this as these will definitely be the last two [seasons]," Jean told Entertainment Weekly. "We just want to keep fighting and go as long as we can ... We really feel this isn't an end but a beginning. It's a cliché, but it's the truth."
The studio and actors settled their salary dispute -- Fox wanted to cut their salaries by 45 percent and the cast wanted a share of the merchandising and syndication profits -- and the show was renewed.
'Simpsons' executive producer Al Jean told 'Entertainment Weekly' that Cera provides the voice for Nick, a seemingly gallant boy.
"He starts quoting Hemingway and she says, 'You're not a product of the Springfield public schools, are you?' And he goes, 'No, I come to Springfield for the food and the women.' So he talks a good game."
Sadly for Lisa, first appearances can be deceptive, and she starts to realize that Nick is "less than expected."
Writers and producers at 'The Simpsons' love nothing more than to take comedic pot-shots at the Fox network and its parent company News Corp.
However, some controversy is brewing after the show made fun of Fox News twice, but 'Simpsons' producer Al Jean says they're ready to stop. (For now.)
After a recent episode featured a Fox news chopper with the slogan "Not Racist, But #1 With Racists" on the side, Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly called Matt Groening and his crew "pinheads." So this past Sunday the Fox news chopper was back, only this time the slogan read: "Unsuitable for Viewers Under 75."
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Jean said the "Unsuitable" joke was added at the last-minute because of O'Reilly's dig. "If you're calling cartoon characters 'pinheads,' what does that make you? Matt Groening wanted to do a response to O'Reilly so we slipped this in."
I've been holding this interview for almost six months, but I think it was worth it. When I was in Pasadena last summer for the TCA press tour (whose winter edition I'll be leaving for on Friday morning... eep!), I spoke to Morgan Spurlock about the 20th anniversary film he was making about The Simpsons. FOX has finally decided to air that film, entitled The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special -- In 3-D! On Ice!, on January 10, along with the venerable cartoon's 450th episode.
Spurlock was just in the initial stages of filming the documentary when I talked to him, but his views on the show, how it and the perception of it has changed over the years, and some of the interesting things he learned about the show made for a fun interview. Since I didn't know how long the movie was going to be, I start the talk by expressing some surprise about its length.
Matt Groening and Al Jean said an interview with Morgan Spurlock, the Super Size Me star and director hired for the show's big anniversary extravaganza, that they have no plans to start doing another Simpsons movie anytime soon.
They didn't rule out the possibility of another movie, but it certainly won't be in the foreseeable future. The pair said the process for the first movie was so frustrating that they couldn't fathom even starting a second one without some kind of heavy duty anti-psychotic medication.
Now he's an executive producer and showrunner, staring down the twentieth anniversary of the official start of the series, which happens in January. I spoke with him this week about this Sunday's season premiere, a bit of Simpsons history, and just how long the Simpsons can keep making people laugh.
After 20 years of doing The Simpsons, how do you find something new to do with the show? How do you generate ideas you haven't done before?
Well, it's the best of both worlds. If something happens to you in your life or to the world, you can satirize it but you get to use these characters that people love and that you're very familiar with. To me, there's a lot of topics that are fresh and interesting.
Twenty years later, Spurlock has established himself as a filmmaker with Super Size Me and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden, and will direct a segment for the upcoming adaptation of Freakonomics. And he'll get to tackle the show he's loved these past two decades as he produces and directs The Simpsons Anniversary Special - In 3-D! On Ice!, which will air Thursday, January 14, 2010.
Spurlock remembers his first impression of the show, watching back in his college days. "When it first came on, I was in college, and it was literally an obsession. It was something that me and all my friends would literally ... at 8 o'clock, we were sitting there on the couch watching this show, and it was something that we all did together," said Spurlock in a conference call with media last week. "For all my four years of college, that was something that we did."
Considering the fact that The Simpsons continues to be so successful -- last year's movie, for instance, grossed a staggering $526 million worldwide -- and remains hilarious and relevant, Fox would be nuts to let the show go. And one of the best things about this family sitcom is that the characters never age. Bart and Lisa only age in the episodes that fantasize about the future.
The Simpsons, paired with the Seth MacFarlane shows -- Family Guy and American Dad -- plus King of the Hill, gives Fox the most competitive and alternative programming for Sunday nights.
Day three of Comic-Con 2008 began with waiting in a line that streched the length of the convention center for the Futurama panel, which was followed by The Simpsons panel. Futurama featured the primary voice cast of Billy West, Katey Sagal, and John DiMaggio as well as creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen.
Due to time limitations the panel when right into audience questions. One that was asked pertained to Matt and David's plans for the show. Both meant said that they had the entire story of Futurama planned even before the show began. They didn't know where the show would go, and they still have plenty of secrets to reveal in upcoming DVD releases.
As usual, FOX leaves the best press conference (at least as far as I was concerned) for last. I sat through Karl Rove and Chris Wallace getting contentious with the critics near the end of the FOX News panel (more on that later), Jerry O'Connell and the cast of Do Not Disturb strain to answer questions about a show whose clip reel wasn't all that funny, and the millionaires from Secret Millionaire talk about being poor for a week. All of it was made worth it (and, really, seeing Rove start to get annoyed near the end was fun to watch) so we could see the final panel: all the producers of all FOX's Sunday animated shows.
The first person who spoke up, not surprisingly, was Seth MacFarlane. "Is this where Karl Rove sat? Because I don't want to get AIDS." Wow. Unfortunately, no line that was said after that was as shocking or funny. But it was all still pretty good.
In a recent conference call, Simpsons writer and producer Al Jean spoke about the upcoming 400th episode, titled "Kent Always Say What You Want" (the title was originally "The Kent State Massacre" but that was changed for obvious reasons).
The episode airs May 20 at 8:30 p.m. and is preceded by the 24 spoof "24 Minutes" featuring guests Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
Groening gives the show's loyal fans all the credit in the world for helping the show come back. "The continued devotion of the fans, chiefly on the Internet, kept us thinking that maybe we could bring this back," he said.
I'm going to post my overall thoughts on this TV smorgasboard later this week. But before I hop a plane back to Jersey, I wanted to talk about the session that was a TV nerd's dream, at least to this TV nerd: FOX's panel to celebrate the 400th episode of The Simpsons, which will air this May. On the panel was none other than creator Matt Groening, executive producer and TV legend James L. Brooks, current show-runner Al Jean, and voice actors Yeardley Smith (Lisa) and Dan Castellaneta (Homer and a bunch of other voices).
The Critic, while it was on television, aired on ABC, FOX, and Comedy Central, though not at the same time. The show, created by Simpsons vets Mike Reiss and Al Jean, started off on ABC where it wallowed in obscurity, and then moved to FOX for its second season. Actually, it didn't fare much better on FOX, either, and after two seasons the plug was pulled. It did, however, manage to find an audience when Comedy Central began airing reruns. Also, a "third" season of shorts was created for Shockwave.com. Not counting the Shockwave mini-episodes, the series only ran for a total of 23 episodes.
The titular character, voiced by Jon Lovitz, was a critic living in New York City who essentially hated every movie he saw. Of course, every movie he saw was incredibly bad, so you couldn't really blame him. The series premiered in 1994, and as anyone who has tried to get an animated show on primetime in the wake of The Simpsons knows, it can be an uphill battle, even if you happened to work on The Simpsons yourself. In fact, a crossover episode of The Simpsons featuring Jay Sherman (the Critic) was made ("A Star is Burns"). That episode, however, perhaps inadvertently zeroed in on why The Critic didn't last. While it was a great show, it seemed to wither under the shadow of a much bigger and much more popular series. Even I never gave it much of a chance when it first aired, seeing it as a lesser version of what The Simpsons was offering. It wasn't until I watched it on its own merit that I realized it was actually very unique, very well-written, and had carved out its own little universe separate from The Simpsons. The lesson, I suppose, is never jump to conclusions.
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