July 2011 Archives

Polly Platt (1939 - 2011)

Polly Platt was an Oscar-nominated production designer, producer, and screenwriter whose career spanned four decades, the first woman in the Art Director's Guild, and a frequent collaborator of James L. Brooks. Her credits include The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News, and Bottle Rocket. But since this is a Simpsons website, I'll just skip to a trivial footnote of her career.

By now, every Simpsons nerd knows the show's origin: Brooks discovered struggling cartoonist Matt Groening, asked him to do some cartoons for the The Tracey Ullman Show; Groening feared the loss of his Life in Hell characters, so instead he designed a cartoon family, named after his own family; three years later The Simpsons was spun-off into its own show. Well, GET THIS: Polly Platt was the person who introduced Brooks to Matt Groening's work. Here's her remembering the story from John Ortved's The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History:

I was nominated for an Academy Award for Terms of Endearment and I wanted to give Jim a thank-you gift. Matt did a cartoon called "Success and Failure in Hollywood." So I called Matt and I bought the original.


[Jim] was thrilled! First of all, he loves to get presents. He really does. He just laughed and laughed and hung it on his wall in his office. It was a brilliant cartoon. Success and failure come out to exactly the same thing in the cartoon [i.e., death].

My suggestion to Jim: I thought it would be great to do a TV special on the characters that he [Matt] had already drawn. I never envisioned anything like The Simpsons.

So, had it not been for Polly Platt and her gift-giving skills, The Simpsons would've never existed. Kinda makes you think. [Los Angeles Times]

The Simpsons Are Going To Antarctica!!!

CoverWay back in the heady days of late Season 13, viewers were presented with the tantalizing prospect of a Simpson family voyage to the mysterious continent of Antarctica:

Homer: The Simpsons are goin' to Brazil.
Bart: Then I'll have been on every continent.
Marge: Except Antarctica.
Homer: The Simpsons are goin' to Antarctica ... next year. This year Brazil.

But alas, a vacation to Antarctica was not in the cards for the following season (instead they went to EPCOT Center to help reunite Principal Skinner with Mrs. Krapabbel, who is now dating Ned Flanders for some reason). Although some fanfiction writers tried to keep the dream alive, the hopes of seeing Bart and Lisa hanging out with penguins slowly evaporated as the years went on and the Simpsons seemed to go everywhere except Antarctica (remember the time they went to Ireland? No? Good.) But now, finally, a decade later, THE DREAM HAS BECOME REALITY.

The Hollywood Reporter:

This season the Simpsons will achieve the landmark of having visited all seven continents: Yes, this means the Simpsons family is headed to Antarctica.

Now there's no guarantee this will be a straight-up "vacation" episode like Bart vs. Australia or Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo. It could just be a brief stopover, like the time they went to Peru, or Homer's visit to the Kwik-E-Mart head office in India. But I certainly hope it's the former. Predictions: they go there because of something involving Lisa and global warming, Homer ignores the advice of the scientists in the research base and goes off alone, Homer fights with some penguins and gets bitten, a melting glacier becomes the setpiece of the obligatory action-packed Act 4 conflict. I can't wait!

Now You Can Watch The Simpsons On Your Coat


Some nerdlinger made a "video coat" made up of little LED screens that allows the wearer to show Simpsons episodes and other videos on their jacket. I guess it's similar to Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman's TV-Bra for Living Sculpture (1969), except less likely to give you cancer, maybe. Doesn't this seem like something out of a bad sci-fi movie about obtrusive advertising in the future? If this gets out of hand, Fox will have to join forces with the Fashion Police to stop bootleggers.

I just have one quibble: if this guy's so smart, then why is he choosing to watch the Season 9 travesty "This Little Wiggy?" Check and mate. [Cathode Corner via Gizmodo]

News Corp. Just Straight Up Hacking Everyone These Days

rupert murdoch sideshow bob’ last gleamingBad news for The Simpsons's corporate parent's corporate parent: it turns out people get mad when tabloids hack into their phones! Over the past decade, some News Corp.-owned UK tabloids have hacked, or at least have tried to hack, into the phones of former prime minister Gordon Brown, 9/11 & 7/7 victims, and the families of dead soldiers. Journalism! Once it was revealed that News of the World had hacked into a dead girl's voicemail - and even deleted some her messages to make room for more - the newspaper was shut down this week after 168 years of publication, nearly half the lifespan of The Simpsons.

Royal Couple to Simpsons: "We Are Not Amused"

doh"Homer Simpson" wrote a letter to Britain's Royal Couple, Will & Kate, inviting them to sit in on a read-through of some upcoming Season 60 garbage on their trip to glorious Los Angeles, because word got out that Prince William used to like The Simpsons when he was a kid. To the surprise of no one, it turns out the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had better things to do than sit around a table with a bunch of self-loathing comedy writers, listening to actors recite terrible lines of dialogue over the phone. First, I'd like to imagine that Prince William, like everyone else, knows that the show is really bad now. Secondly, why would Homer invite people to a read-through, where they'd no doubt discover his terrible secret of being a fictional character? That's like Mickey Mouse inviting kids to the Disneyland basement and then taking off his head to reveal he's just some guy wearing a costume. It's a little perverse. [WA Today]