EXCLUSIVE Archives

Matt Groening Made Yet Another Company

Matt GroeningSimpsons 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?

Ten Simpsons Episodes That Never Were

PrinceBill Oakley has done it again. Last Friday on Twitter, the former Simpsons showrunner revealed his personal top ten Simpsons episodes that were "pitched, discussed, [and] written," but, for whatever reason, never produced and lost to the sands of time.

Now, most of our competition would just lazily copy & paste the list and call it a day, but we here at rubbercat.net/simpsons have much more respect for you, the reader. We have attempted to dig up as much information about these would-be episodes as possible, from audio commentaries, interviews, and story outlines, to bring you the most complete picture of these extra-bonus-non-episodes as possible. Let's run through the list, shall we?


Milhouse Could've Starred In A Saturday Morning Cartoon

Bart and MilhouseBeloved cartoon character Milhouse Van Houten might have began life as part of an unsuccessful pitch for a Saturday morning cartoon.

In a discussion on Twitter last week, Simpsons superdirector David Silverman clarified some things about Milhouse's origins, shooting down rumors he's just a rip-off of Paul Pfeiffer from The Wonder Years (come on dudes, he's pretty much just Akbar/Jeff with hair and glasses). He also shared a little more behind-the-scenes information about his first appearance. It's been known that Milhouse first appeared in a pre-series Simpsons Butterfinger commercial - in 2000, Simpsons creator Matt Groening told TV Guide he "needed to give Bart someone to talk to in the school cafeteria" - but until now it was believed he was created specifically for that commercial.

Marge Simpson Had Rabbit Ears

marge surprisedMatt Groening came up with the idea for The Simpsons, but that doesn't mean all his ideas are winners. Like, for instance, Marge Simpson being an anthropomorphic rabbit disguised as a human.

*record scratch* Say wha--?!? Here's Daria Paris, who was the assistant to former executive producer Sam Simon, as quoted in John Ortved's The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History:

There were times in the room when Matt would come up with the stupidest ideas. And he had this one: we were going to do an episode where Marge finally lets her hair down, and Matt's idea was that once she let it down the audience finds out she has rabbit ears, which was ridiculous. And Sam said no.

And here's what Groening had to say about it on the audio commentary for Selma's Choice, when writer David M. Stern brings it up and puts him on the spot:

That was the original - back in the - my plan, back in the very beginning, that she was actually a Life in Hell rabbit from my comic strip... but then it just seemed like a... I just said "oh, forget it, there's no ears under there."

"Ridiculous" is putting it lightly. Here's how I'd like to imagine that transpired: the writers and producers are seated around a giant table in a Dr. Strangelove-like Situation Room. Matt Groening causally brings up his idea that Marge Simpson - loving wife, devoted mother, future Playboy centerfold - is a rabbit in disguise, a secret that would be revealed in the final episode. A long, awkward silence ensues, as the writers sit in stunned disbelief at the utter insanity their boss just uttered. Suddenly, Sam Simon starts yelling at Groening about what a stupid idea that is. After a big back-and-forth about the plausibility of the whole concept, Simon finally puts his foot down, and Groening shame-facedly retreats to his office, to console himself with money. And thus we were all spared from the horror of Marge's closet rabbitness being An Actual Thing.

...OR WERE WE?!?!

The Trouble With Titles

krustyIn case you ever need further evidence of the creative bankruptcy of Current Simpsons, look no further than the episode titles themselves. Here is a list of titles from Seasons 21 and 22.

SIMPSONS ALUMNI UPDATE 2010

After finding out former Simpsons writer David M. Stern (Bart Gets an F, Kamp Krusty) developed Ugly Americans (watch it!! it's cool), I got curious and decided to find out what some other ex-Simpsons people are up to. DISCLAIMERS/CAVEATS: 1. I basically only looked at wikipedia and imdb, so this could be rife with inaccuracies, etc. 2. With some exceptions, I don't care about anyone who joined the show after it got bad or only wrote like one episode 3. This is essentially limited to movies/tv, since the internet assumes people fell off the face of the earth if they're not doing something for mass audiences

Richard Appel (writer): Showrunner for The Cleveland Show

Wes Archer (director): Was working on The Goode Family until it got cancelled; unclear what he's currently doing

Brad Bird (director): Doing a live-action movie for Pixar (zuh????)

Daniel Chun (writer): Now writing for The Office

David S/X. Cohen (writer): His beloved baby Futurama returns in June on Comedy Central

Jonathan Collier (writer): MIA

Jennifer Crittenden (writer): Producing mysterious project called What's Your Number?

Greg Daniels (writer): Co-creations The Office and Parks and Recreation still going strong

Brent Forrester (writer): Writer for The Office

Ken Keeler (writer): Nerding it up at Futurama

Jay Kogan (writer): Executive producer for some supernatural live-action Nickelodeon show called The Troop; writing an adaptation of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Lauren MacMullan (director): MIA

Jeff Martin (writer/clown): MIA

George Meyer (writer): Occasionally contributes to The New Yorker

Bill Oakley (showrunner, seasons 7 - 8): Writing stuff from Portland

Conan O'Brien (writer): Legally prohibited from being funny on television

Jim Reardon (director): Presumably still Pixarin' it up

Mike Reiss (showrunner, seasons 3-4): While technically still a producer for The Simpsons (I think??), he's been doing a bunch of other projects like writing children's books, computer-animated movies, and the critically-unacclaimed My Life in Ruins

David M. Stern (writer): Developed Ugly Americans, which recently debuted on Comedy Central

Mike Scully (showrunner, seasons 9-12): Writer on Parks & Recreation

John Swartzwelder (writer): Still cranking out funny books from his secret underground lair

Sam Simon (executive producer/showrunner, seasons 1-2): Doing some poker thing

Jon Vitti (writer): Co-wrote an upcoming movie starring Steve Carell; currently working on something called "Boo U."

Josh Weinstein (showrunner, seasons 7-8): MIA??? Wikipedia says he's a producer on Futurama (again), but I'm not sure if I believe that

Frank Welker (voice actor, Santa's Little Helper): Most recent voice credit is "Additional Nuts Voice"

Lona Williams (beauty pageant winner/writing assistant): MIA

Wallace Wolodarsky (writer): Voiced an opossum in Fantastic Mr. Fox; adapting a Philip K. Dick story into a Disney cartoon

The Secret Origin of The Simpsons

The Simpsons turn 20 today (that is, if you don't count the Christmas special as the first episode and completely ignore the original shorts from The Tracey Ullman Show), and there's been a number of retrospectives to mark the occasion. An oft-repeated claim in many histories is that creator Matt Groening, fearing the loss of his Life in Hell characters, came up with the Simpsons in fifteen minutes before a meeting with Ullman producer James L. Brooks. But the characters actually originated nearly 40 years ago, in an unpublished novel Groening wrote in high school:

Chat Transcript (April 6, 1999):


Question hobgoblin: How old were you when you first came up with the idea for "The Simpsons"? I know that the show has been on for a long time.
[...]
Matt_G "The Simpsons" originated in high school.
Matt_G I wrote a bleak little novel called "The Mean Little Kids" starring a teenage Bart Simpson with buckteeth and a very bad complexion.

Interview with Robert William Kubey, published in Creating Television: Conversations with the People Behind 50 Years of American TV (Late 1991):

How quickly did The Simpsons gel in your mind?

I needed to come up with an idea really quickly. In the back of my mind was the idea of doing something that might possibly end up spinning off into its own TV show, so I created a family which I thought would lend itself to a lot of different kinds of stories. In high school I had written a novel, a sort of a very sour Catcher in the Rye, self pitying, adolescent novel starring Bart Simpson as a very troubled teenager. I took that family and transferred it, made them younger, and then drew. It took about 15 minutes to design the characters the first time out.

Were they all the same characters that we now know and love?

Yes, but they've been transformed.

Why didn't you leave Bart as an adolescent?

TV does children really badly, and I thought there was room for something different. Teenagers are already running rampant on television, but kids are done very unrealistically in sitcoms. Sometimes, a particular character gels with an audience and becomes the star.

Was Bart at the center all along?

Yeah. The rest of the Simpsons in my original conception were in a struggle to be normal and Bart was the one who thought that being normal was boring.

And now you know... the rest of the story.