So, pop superstar Justin Bieber had a small 10-second cameo in last Sunday's Simpsons episode, which seemed to disappoint everyone. Bieber fans didn't like it because it was too short, unbeliebers thought it was too long, and Bieber himself initially tried to suppress all evidence of it last year.
Perhaps wary of The Controversy, executive producer Al Jean attempted to deflect blame for it onto his boss, Matt Groening:
According to Jean, Groening requested that Bieber be worked into an episode. "I think he has a family member who was a fan," Jean says. "I think he's a fan, too. So he asked us to find a place to use him. I think [Bieber] had also met Matt and wanted to be on the show."
Matt Groening, a Bieber fan? It's possible, but Groening - a former music critic - is known for his eclectic music taste. He likes oddball rock & roll, Balinese gamelan music, and Romanian brass bands. He said pop music "usually sounds like the audio equivalent of CGI." He wrote a biography of The Residents. He's curated the All Tomorrow's Parties progressive music festival twice. He guest-edited an anthology of music writing. He's let indie bands Tender Forever and Electrelane hang out at his house. He's a big Captain Beefheart fan. He interviewed and was friends with Frank Zappa.
Simpsons creator Matt Groening added yet another company to his only robust portfolio last year, a mysterious entity known as "Bapper Entertainment." Bleeding Cool suspects he's "getting ready to reveal" whatever this new thing is. I wouldn't count on it, though, because making new companies seems to be something of a hobby for him. Let's take a look at some of the other companies he's had over the years, shall we?
Former Mission Hill and Simpsons director Lauren MacMullan has apparently directed a new Mickey Mouse cartoon for Disney. Gosh!
There is some speculation over whether the cartoon, "Get A Horse!" is new-but-made-to-look old, or if it's an abandoned short from back in the day that Disney decided to finish decades later (like 2003's Destino). The late Walt Disney is apparently voicing Mickey once again. Maybe he's finally being unfrozen??
MacMullan is a wonderful director who gained some notoriety amongst Simpsons fansites for her unique visual flair, and one of many Simpsons directors to have made the jump to Disney. I vaguely remember seeing a short piece she did for MTV featuring vintage-looking cartoon characters (which I can't find a video of), so it's good to know things have come full circle for her.
Yesterday, Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria (Moe, Chief Wiggum, Lisa) survived a close encounter with inhabitants of the notorious investigation-hindering and pony-fetish forum Reddit long enough to answer some of their burning questions. Frankly, his AV Club interview from several years ago was a lot more illuminating and in-depth if you really wanna know more about the Hankster, but nevertheless, here are the highlights from his "Ask Me Anything" interview so you don't have to navigate Reddit's terrible comment layout.
First, he tackled the obvious question, whether or not he's ever seen Dan Castelleneta choke Nancy Cartwright to get the Homer-strangling-Bart scenes just right:
i have never witnessed it, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to prove that it has happened.
In a rather shocking development, it turns out he still likes the show that pays him millions of dollars each year:
mostly i'm too close to the show and love doing it so much to have an objective opinion. i do what i've always done, which is show up and enjoy making what they've written come to life. the show still really makes me laugh. i've certainly seen online over the years, and elsewhere, people criticizing the show. it reminds me of the beatles anthology. there's this section where people are talking about how the white album isn't so good...that it was too long and that a lot of the tracks didn't work, and you see various people saying it wasn't up to snuff. and then, they cut to paul mccartney who says "yeah, i've heard people don't like the white album, but i say it's the bloody beatles white album. it's fucking great." that's kind of how i feel about the show.
Panda rape & talking rags? Same thing as the White Album, basically.
Conan O'Brien got tired of people always asking him about The Simpsons, so he did a lengthy roundtable discussion with his former co-workers Al Jean, Jay Kogen, Jeff Martin, and Mike Reiss that touches on Tracey Ullman, the writers' room, Reiss's feud with a line producer, Sam Simon's impeccable writing and drawing skills, and The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. My favorite anecdote is Jay Kogen running up to Bruce Springsteen, who instinctively shielded his wife from the crazy person. [Team Coco]
After a 30 year run, Santa Monica radio station KCRW is replacing Harry Shearer's Le Show with something called "TED Radio Hour," which is either Seth MacFarlane making raunchy jokes in the guise of a horny teddy bear for an hour or repackaged TED Talk lectures where captains of industry share "inspiring" words of wisdom cribbed from Chicken Soup for the Soul. Not sure which is worse. [Los Angeles Times]
Not only does Fox's parent corporation News Corp. have an education division ("If you have three Pepsis and drink one, how much more refreshed are you?"), but said division has created their own Android-based learning tablet. Which is great, because why wouldn't you want to buy a communication device from a company embroiled in a massive phone-hacking scandal? [New York Times]
So there's this service called Aereo that streams broadcast television (you know, the stuff that you can get for free on your TV) on the web for a monthly fee. The "Fab Four" networks (Fox, CBS, UPN, and the DuMont Network) aren't too happy about it, since none of that monthly fee is going to them. It also undermines the princely retransmission fees they get from cable & satellite providers, because then a cable company could say to them "hey, that internet service gets your content for free, why can't we?" and they don't really have a good answer to that. Naturally, they tried to sue Aereo out of existence, except it didn't work out because the courts say Aereo is a-okay-o.
Well, Fox isn't having any of that. A guy from their parent company News Corp. is straight up threatening to take the Fox network off the air and have it become a cable company if Aereo is allowed to continue operating:
"We need to be able to be fairly compensated for our content," Carey said. "This is not an ideal path we look to pursue, but we can't sit idly by and let an entity steal our signal. We will move to a subscription model if that's our only recourse."
...he said, twirling his whimsical mustache evilly. Does News Corp. train its executives to sound like supervillians or does it come naturally to them?
This move would leave millions of viewers who watch via antenna (many of them economically disadvantaged) deprived of their favorite Fox shows like The Cleveland Show and The Following. If the other networks follow Fox's lead, this could mean The End of Television As We Know It.
In a weird twist, Aereo is backed by Barry Diller, the founder of the Fox network who the evil corporate plutocrat Mr. Burns is partially based on. Is he a bad enough dude to bring down the very network he created??? Only time will tell.... [Bloomberg]
Simpsons creator Matt Groening has apparently joined the advisory board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization that's basically an ACLU for funnybooks. According to its website, one of CBLDF's missions includes providing "for the legal defense of individuals whose First Amendment rights are threatened for making, selling, or even reading comic books."
It's a change of pace for Groening, who's usually the one playing legal offense.
The Simpsons and Butterfinger brand chocolate bars had a long and fruitful endorsement deal - one that began even before the series started - generating over a hundred (!?!) commercials over a period of 13 years. Then, for unknown reasons, Butterfinger terminated the partnership in 2001. Not one to leave bridges unburned, The Simpsons poked fun at their former corporate partner in the 2002 episode Sweets & Sour Marge, as described in Chris Turner's book Planet Simpson:
In a Season 13 episode, the Springfield court imposes a total ban on sugar. A giant bonfire is built to burn all the sugary treats in Springfield, and some police officers attempt to throw a pile of Butterfingers onto the blaze. As they hit the fire, though, a sort of force field surrounds them, and they're thrown back, unburned. "Not even the fire wants them," Chief Wiggums notes ruefully.
A later episode, Half-Decent Proposal, featured the chalkboard gag "I will not bite the hand that feeds me Butterfingers," indicating Butterfinger was unhappy with the joke and made their displeasure known.
And so, for over a decade, Bart Simpson never so much as laid a finger on a crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery Butterfinger. Spokespeople including Seth Green, Lou "Iron Man" Ferrigno, and Jaime Pressly were brought in as replacements for Bart, but things just weren't the same. Could those two bar-crossed brands ever reconcile and form a new advertising partnership?
Simpsons writer Don Payne died yesterday at the young age of 48. The cause is unknown at this time, but former writing partner John Frink told the Wilmington Star-News he'd been suffering from bone cancer.
Fellow Simpsons writer Mike Scully broke the news yesterday afternoon on Twitter. Executive producer Al Jean issued a statement saying Payne was "beloved in the 'Simpsons' community and his untimely passing is terrible news to us all."
Back in the 90s, Payne and Frink wrote for sitcoms like Veronica's Closet, Men Behaving Badly and a bunch of unproduced pilots before they were both brought in to The Simpsons in 2000. Together they wrote the Simpsons episodes "Insane Clown Poppy," "Bye Bye Nerdie," "Simpsons Tall Tales," and "The Bart Wants What It Wants." They ended their writing partnership a few years later on amicable terms. Payne's solo Simpsons credits include "Thank God It's Doomsday" and "Fraudcast News," the latter of which earned him a special Paul Selvin Award from the Writers Guild of America. In 2007, he gave the Star-Newsten reasons why he loved working on The Simpsons, including "We can do jokes about socialism and Homer's butt catching on fire."
Rather than be constrained to writing television, Payne managed to achieve his childhood dreams of conquering Hollywood and writing boffo blockbusters. A lifelong comics fanboy, his first credited movie was the superhero spoof My Super Ex-Girlfriend, which later led to him co-writing the Marvel films Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Thor, and its upcoming sequel Thor: The Dark World. According to a 2011 interview, he had an idea for his own comic that he was keen to do if he could ever find the time between his Simpsons and film duties.
Simpsons writer-producer Tim Long almost died last Friday! His downstairs neighbor, Twilight starlet Ashley Greene, accidentally set her West Hollywood apartment on fire because of a dumb candle. People managed to evacuate in time, but sadly one of Greene's dogs was not so lucky (rip im sorry).
This past Monday, Simpsons producer emertius and animal activist Sam Simon went on Jon Leiberman's Leiberman Live at Five radio show and publicly revealed he's been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sam's good friend Howard Stern played a few clips of that interview yesterday, which you can listen to below:
Simon had been strongly hinting at the diagnosis for a while on Twitter: last month, he tweeted a photo of his medications, including one for chemotherapy, as well as a photo of all the "medical" marijuana people have been giving him.
Simon, of course, played an enormous role in forming the tone and voice of The Simpsons as it evolved into a series.
Harlem Shake! I still don't really know what the hell it is because I try to avoid these global phenomenon internet meme things like the plague. Sometimes a guy likes to preserve a little mystery and be blissfully unaware of all internet traditions, y'know? About a week after "Harlem Shake" starting creeping up on my radar I started seeing blog headlines declaring it dead, and I breathed a sigh of a relief that maybe it really did die before becoming a year-long "thing" like Gangnam Style ended up being and I wouldn't have to eventually learn what it is. But, of course, nothing can truly be dead until after Modern Simpsons has had their "take" on it. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you "Homer Shake:"
See?? This quarter-century old show has still "got it," we're hip and relevant with the kids and all their latest memes and net buzz, ohgodpleasedon'tcancelus. One is tempted to call this desperate grab at relevancy a new low for The Simpsons Brand Entertainment Franchise but they already crashed that barrier years ago and this is just par for the course now (see also: the "Mr. Burns endorses Romney" video, featuring everybody's favorite debate meme, The Binders Full Of Women).
Anyway, I'm getting increasingly worried because the turnaround time between jokes in my episode guide and the jokes becoming reality keeps getting shorter and shorter.
Well, the Maggie Simpson short lost in its bid for an Academy Award, and the world was robbed of the opportunity to see director David Silverman's majestic beard. Here's a photopic of Silverman, Matt Groening, and writer Michael Price looking dapper on the red carpet (apparently Silverman and Groening didn't get the memo to wear this Maggie button):
Yes, you heard right. After years of anticipation and speculation, 81-year old former senator Alan K. Simpson and his youthful ward Erskine Bowles have finally announced and released a long-awaited followup to their 2010 megahit, The Simpson-Bowles Plan.
The new plan, Simpson-Bowles 2: Escape from Necron 7, goes even further than the original plan in reducing the nation's deficit. While the original had a semblance of balance between spending cuts and revenue increases, the new plan is much more heavily tilted towards extreme austerity (which mostly involves cuts from Medicare and Medicaid), thanks in large part to the deficit hawkish Simpson, who once called Social Security "a milk cow with 310 million tits."
Splitsider has another typically enlightening interview with a Simpsons writer, this time with the generally-reviled former showrunner Mike Scully. He talks about writing for the Golden Globes, his occasional acting on Parks & Recreation (I didn't know his character had a name), and his short-lived series The Pitts (I only remember Fox's obnoxious promos for it, which focused primarily on the girl getting a pipe stuck in her head and saying "I've got a freakin' pipe stuck in my head!" or something similiar. Or maybe that was his other show, The Mullets, who knows).
The stuff about his tenure on The Simpsons is interesting - he had the choice of doing either that or Coach (I wonder what the inevitable "Craig T. Nelson gets leprosy" episode would've been like), met Conan right before he got sucked away by NBC, and rose from being a 1-day college dropout intimidated by the Ivy League-infested writers' room to running it just a few years later.
He also lectures a bit about the importance of putting characters before jokes, which is a little galling coming from the guy who brought us panda rape and jockey elves. But he does give an apology, of sorts:
It's funny going back and doing these DVD commentaries 10 years later. You get a chance to relive every bad decision you made. There are times when you wish you could fast-forward the DVD and just say, "Sorry folks, I don't know what I was thinking on that one."
The Simpsons lost every Annie Award it was nominated for (including one for the infamous rag episode), but Simpsons alumni Rich Moore won Best Director and his film Wreck-It Ralph won Best Feature, so good for him!
My Google Alert for "Yeardley Smith sex tape" has finally beared fruit! Here is a photo of Lisa Simpson's voice actress cavorting with a naked man in broad daylight.
Simpsons producer James L. Brooks is literally on the National Rifle Association's enemies list. No word on Matt "NRA4EVER" Groening, though.
Speaking of Brooks, looks like he got his Twitter hacked, with little success at stopping it. He appears to be waging a hilarious battle with the Twitter-jacker over which one is the real one. Just goes to show you, even if you're a big-time Hollywood mega-producer, you can still get your stuff hacked. Stay protected, yo. [via @vmcampos]
Former showrunner Bill Oakley posted the pre-distortion audio file of Ned Flanders from Homer's chili-induced hallucination. Much respect for Harry Shearer.
UNRELATED SIMPSONS IN THE NEWS: 81-year old ex-senator Alan Simpson, namesake of the Simpson-Bowles commission, attempted to perform the Gangnam Style dance in a bid to turn young people into granny-starving deficit hawks. [via kushibo]
The Simpsons theatrical short shoved in front of Ice Age 4 last summer, Maggie Simpson in: "The Longest Daycare" (yes, that's the full title), has been nominated for what's known in the streets as an "Oscar" award.
Good for them, I suppose. It was definitely one of the better outputs emanating from the Simpsons Franchise Factory this decade. The fact no one had to recite terrible Modern Simpsons dialgoue certainly helped. Even those haters at Dead Homers Society enjoyed it. And it was nice to see director and longtime Simpsons drawer-person David Silverman gobsmacked and thanking everybody on Twitter this morning (hey idiot, save the thanks for your acceptance speech!).
It's the first Oscar nomination for The Simpsons. When The Simpsons Movie was announced, creator Matt Groening quipped "Come next Oscars, we think it's going to be Milhouse's night." Now, I don't know if they were intentionally gunning for an Oscar then; James L. Brooks just wanted a hit to rebound from Spanglish, and as far as I can tell they never put out one of those "For Your Consideration" advertisements in trade magazines (though voice actor Harry Shearer's role in For Your Consideration really messes up the search results). But falling short of garnering a nomination in the Best Animated Feature category - deemed not good enough to compete with a movie about a surfing penguin - certainly had to sting. So perhaps this nomination provides some validation for bruised egos, and maybe a win could convince the producers to finally end the show since there'd be no more mountains for the franchise to climb (hahaha, just kidding, this show will go on forever). Win or lose, I'm betting there'll be more of these shorts, which won't have to rely on those pesky voice actors and their dumb mortality.
Other notable nominations this year include Wreck-It Ralph, directed by Simpsons alum Rich Moore and written by Simpsons alum Jim Reardon, for Best Animated Feature, and Simpsons arch enemy Seth MacFarlane for a song he wrote for Ted (he's also hosting the ceremony, if you hadn't heard). Yes, both The Simpsons and the Family Guy guy are nominated for Oscars this year. Will these Cartoon Wars never cease???
While America was distracted by all the news about the fiscal cliff and the deficit rag, a shifty scenester scoopster broke into Fox TV Headquarters and burgled the whole dang place, stealing Gordon Ramsay's collection of Taco Bell hot sauces,New Girl's wig, and yet another top-secret memo outlining a bunch of future Simpsons episodes for the upcoming world record 25th season, which the shifty scenester sneakthief gave to us for a low fee. Check out the NONEXCLUSIVE memo below:
Former Simpsons writer/producer/showrunner/developer/character designer Sam Simon, who still rakes in more than $10 million from the show every year, secretly bought a $2 million ship for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a superteam of anti-whaling activists who are engaged in a war with Japanese whalers. The SSS Sam Simon, which is the group's fourth ship, will be used to tie up the Japanese whalers' ships (somehow?) and prevent them from harpooning any whales for supposed "scientific" reasons. So, basically Charlie's Angels with Simon as Charlie, I guess?
Good news, they're finally fining The Simpsons for making bad episodes! Well, ok, not The Simpsons directly. And it's for blasphemy, not quality. But we can at least pretend!!!
Last week, Turkey's Supreme Board of Radio and Television fined the Turkish broacaster CNBC-E (which I assume is not affiliated with the CNBC that employs Joey Ramone's muse Maria Bartiromo) 52,951 Turkish Liras - or $29,593.15 in actual money - for airing last year's Simpsons Halloween special, which featured a blasphemous depiction of God in a parody of Dexter. Here is a description of the segment courtesy of Wikisimpsons:
Ned Flanders drives through a seedy district of Springfield and starts doing lots of good chores, until he dumps a severed body into a local lake. Mr. Burns then drives up to dump nuclear waste in the lake and a large booming voice tells Ned to kill him. Ned does so and dumps the body in the lake too. Back at home, Ned gets ready to kill again when asked by who he thinks is God and also kills Sideshow Bob and Patty and Selma. He eventually finds out that Homer has been ordering these deaths, not God, and goes to kill Homer. Homer then burns Ned's Bible and the real God comes along and strangles Homer to death. When Marge walks in, God blames Ned for the death. Marge asks God to put everything right but he says that the Devil wouldn't like it, when he suddenly comes along and asks God to make him tea. Then, Maude Flanders comes along and asks the Devil to come back to bed, annoying Ned greatly.
This doesn't bode well for the upcoming Turkish adaptation of God, The Devil, and Bob.
Disclaimer: "The Simpsons" TM and copyright FOX and its related companies. All rights reserved. This website, its operators, and any content contained on this site relating to "The Simpsons" is not authorized by FOX.