Back in February, we blew the doors off the biggest plagiarism scandal to rock the entertainment industry since Disney's wholesale appropriation of Osamu Tezuka's Kimba the White Lion (Really, Disney? "Simba?"): former Tonight Show guest host Conan O'Brien's blatant theft of The Simpsons' iconic "couch gag" in the titles of his new show. After three months of stonewalling our indisputable allegations, the thievery gang known as "Team Coco" has finally broken down and acknowledged the shameful theft in the titles of last night's Conan:
You can see it in action in this curiously unembeddable video. For the watching-impaired, the silhouetted family from Conan's titles returns home to find the Simpsons (including a Small Bart) making off with their television. Clearly the subtext is clear: Conan has stolen The Simpsons's couch gag, so the Simpsons are stealing a television.
Now, obviously this can't undo all the hurt and damage that has arisen as a result from their reckless disregard for intellectual property, but this acknowledgement is certainly a step forward on the path to recovery. While our editorial policy forbids the tooting of one's horn, we would be remiss without noting that once again, rubbercat.net/simpsons has achieved positive change as a direct result of our steadfast reporting. You're welcome, everyone.
Oprah Winfrey ended her show today, y'all! Back in 1992, she interviewed the Simpsons in a dopey 2-minute animated segment. Later, she refused to grant Fox the rights to include it on a Simpsons DVD, preferring to throw it down the memory hole. Luckily, someone taped it and uploaded it to YouTube:
My biggest beef with The Simpsons nowadays is how much it feels like fan fiction. Characters speak in the same stilted voice, their personality traits are either ignored or sacrificed so they can be crammed into a ridiculous situation, and storylines tend to revolve around shocking new revelations, origin stories, and pairing characters together. So I'm not surprised that the show is actually giving control to shippers.
This Sunday, after a new episode where Mrs. Krabappel (she and Mr. K should really get that divorce finalized) starts dating Ned Flanders, viewers will get to decide whether their relationship continues, in a half-assed attempt to generate "buzz." It's exactly like that Batman thing from the 1980s where readers decided whether Robin lived or died, except with "Nedna." Yes, they've already coined a name for it.
The Simpsons has a good track record of cleverly subverting their shameless stunts: Mr. Burns was shot by the least likely suspect; a fan-created character was killed instantly. But I highly doubt even a hilarious twist could salvage this desperate gimmick. Will it be a forgettable waste of time? Or will it be a forgettable waste of time? (Answer: It will be a forgettable waste of time.) [TVbytheNumbers]
The inexplicably beloved Hanna-Barbera franchise The Flintstones, which holds the dubious distinction of being the first cartoon sitcom, is being reinvented for today's audiences by Seth MacFarlane, the auteur behind 90% of today's cartoon sitcoms, including Family Guy and Family Guy Spinoff. Remaking a boring Honeymooners rip-off from half a century ago that nobody actually likes, except maybe nostalgia-blinded baby boomers? Check. Another goddamned Seth MacFarlane show greenlit by Fox, despite their ridiculous insistence that their strategy is not "all Seth, all the time?" Check. This is the state of television in 2011. [Deadline.com]
Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson and a prominent member of the Church of Scientology, appeared before a legislative hearing at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield (!) to stress that her Scientology-inspired character-education program is totally secular and should be taught to schoolchildren.
The Illinois School Code requires "character education," defined as "the teaching of respect, responsibility, fairness, [etc.]" to be taught in schools. A House Resolution filed by Rep. Daniel Burke (D-Chicago), recommended several programs and clubs that satisfy that requirement, including Cartwright's "Good Choices" program, of which the bill specifically "encourages its use and the use of similar programs by educators, coaches, mentors, and other community service leaders."
Cartwright freely admits "Good Choices" is based on "The Way to Happiness," a 1980 self-helf booklet by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, which teaches important lessons like "Do Not Murder" (precept 8) and "Don't Do Anything Illegal" (precept 9). While Hubbard's tract is advertised as non-religious, Newsweek noted that it "uses key words and concepts taken directly from Scientology's religious lexicon." Cartwright is a big promoter of the booklet; through her charity, she distributed a million copies of it to the San Fernando Valley in 2007.
Mike Scully, the former Simpsons showrunner who ushered in The Bad Years, made a quick cameo on last Thursday's episode of Parks & Recreation (he's a writer/producer for the show). Be forewarned that the Hulu, NBC, and show idents are probably longer than the clip itself:
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