James L. Brooks Teases Big Guest Star

Spanglish director and Simpsons head honcho James "Jimbo" Brooks recently teased an upcoming guest star on Twitter, claiming it's on par with Michael Jackson's appearance in 1991:

It's gotta be Obama, right? Dude's willing to do a Funny or Die sketch, but not the venerable American institution known as The Simpsons? They've already gotten three Beatles, a sitting prime minister, a reclusive author, AND telephone voice Joan Kenley; who else is even notable enough to get these old grizzled comedy writers all jazzed up?

Other guesses I'm throwing out there:

  • Bob Dylan - Turned them down before, maybe he relented?
  • The Game of Thrones guy - All the writers are horrible nerds, so...
  • Pope Francis - Hey, it could happen.
  • Ella Fitzgerald - Maybe Brooks discovered a way to revive the dead during his time at My Mother The Car?

Speculate away in the non-existent comment section below.

Lunchlady Doris Secretly Replaced By Lunchlady Dora

Lunchlady Doris
After Simpsons voice actress Doris Grau passed away in 1995, her character Lunchlady Doris remained in the show. Or so we thought! It turns out that at some point in the series Doris was silently replaced with a pod person named "Lunchlady Dora," who just happens to look and sound exactly like her.

Out of respect for the late Phil Hartman, his characters Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure were completely retired from the show (well, eventually... they still made occasional background appearances until 2003). This wasn't the case for Lunchlady Doris, who lurked silently in the background for years.

Her silence was broken in a 2009 episode, when Tress MacNeille took over the role with a pretty dead-on impression. Some viewers felt recasting the character was disrespectful to Grau. However, it turns out it was actually a "new" character, "Lunchlady Dora," a loophole that made the move perfectly ethical. Although MacNeille was credited as Lunchlady Dora in that episode's press release, this little change was not mentioned in the actual show until 2013, when Groundskeeper Willie casually mentioned making sweet love to Lunchlady Dora (my fanfic came true!), and a second time in last night's episode, where Dora is mentioned in the school newspaper. AV Club writer Sean O'Neal tweeted about it, assuming it was a typo, which lead Michael Price to set the record straight and confirm it's a "different" character:

Well, now that there's precedent for döppelganger replacement, we can all look forward to the never-ending adventures of Mr. Kurns, Jed Flanders and Principal Skynnyr once Harry Shearer decides to quit.

[Twitter via No Homers Club]

Simpsons Writer Running For Office

wagon train
Former union kingpin Patric Verrone, who wrote for Futurama and The Simpsons, and has a thriving historical figurines business, is running for California State Senate. If elected, he would be the second Simpsons writer to hold public office, following John Swartzwelder's disastrous coup in Guyana.

As president of the Writers Guild of America, West, Verrone led the 2007-2008 writers strike that lead to higher wages and longer beards. Now he's hitting up people for money by namedropping the shows he worked on:

"At 'Futurama,' I wrote a lot about the future," he said. "For California, the future is still being written.  In the script we write together, there's a happy ending. Please join me in in this cause. We're still in this together."

Get it? He wrote Futurama, so now he's going to write the future, with everyone, banging away on the typewriters of Democracy. Wait a minute... he wants to write a happy ending? He wants to end California?!? This mad man must be stopped at all costs.

[Variety]

The Simpsons Still Doesn't Know What to Do About Mrs. Krabappel

Mrs. Krabappel
Mrs. Krabappel made her final speaking appearance last Sunday in an episode that also featured Sideshow Bob using animal DNA to obtain gills and stepping on a rake underwater. Spoiler: Ned Flanders is cursed, and his Vegas wife should fear for her life.

Other than that, the producers still aren't totally sure what to do about Bart's lack of a teacher:

So who will replace Mrs. Kabrappel [sic.] in the fourth-grade classroom? For the time being, no one. The rest of this season's episodes -- which already have been completed -- do not involve Bart with his teacher.

It appears they've already been removing her from classroom scenes. There's a recent episode where a still image of Groundskeeper Willie is just pasted in the background of a scene (I'm pretty sure he doesn't blink).

As for season 26, "we have some ideas," says Jean. "It's also possible both given the way the show works and the state of public schools there won't be a permanent teacher. We can get some great guest stars here and there before we settle on somebody. We're looking at it from different angles."
So, basically it'll be like the post-Steve Carell episodes of The Office, then. Great!

While my preference would be for the show to cease production immediately, my worthless, hacky suggestion is to just have Principal Skinner take over. It'd give the show more chances to focus on his adversarial relationship with Bart and, as a bonus, isolate him from his mother, who's easily my least favorite character. Meanwhile, Superintendent Chalmers would naturally become principal, since he's already at the school all the time anyway.

Either that, or it's finally time for Nameless Ponytail Teacher to step into the spotlight.

[Entertainment Weekly]

The Dead Simpsons Character is Rabbi Krustofsky, FYI

As previously guessed, the Simpsons character fated to die in an upcoming Simpsons episode next season is almost certainly Krusty the Clown's formerly-estranged father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky.

A recently-added copyright record for an episode entitled "Clown in the Dumps" simply confirms it:

clown in the dumps

Who's the only clown we know of in the Simpsons universe? Krusty, of course (Sideshows Mel and Bob are mere assistant clowns, in my estimation). Why would Krusty be in the dumps? Because his father just died, that's why. The clues are piling up, and they all point to a dead rabbi.

I would bet my remaining bitcoin on it!

[United States Copyright Office via No Homers Club]

The Simpsons Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki Was 10 Years in the Making

Otaku My Wife... Please!
The Simpsons homage to legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki that delighted the internet a month or two ago was apparently ten years in the making:
The Simpsons executive producer Al Jean said his team had been trying to work in an homage to Miyazaki on their show for at least a decade, but the eventual episode -- in which Comic Book Guy marries a woman from Japan -- was well underway before the filmmaker announced his retirement.

In the episode, Homer gets drunk with the Japanese woman's father for no apparent reason, they have an anime dream because Japan, and the father realizes he should let his daughter be with Comic Book Guy because he sees his face on No-Face from Spirited Away. The whole sequence is rather disjointed from the rest of the episode, and the awkward attempt to justify its inclusion by making it the story's climax makes for a weird, lazy plot progression (problem → get drunk → problem solved). If the episode was created just so the writers could finally put in a Miyazaki tribute they'd been wanting to put in for over a decade, you'd think they could've worked it in better.

Oh, and Miyazaki hasn't even seen it.

[BuzzFeed]

There Was A Penis In Last Night's Simpsons Episode

doh
Whoops!!! It looks like Bart Simpson's carbon rod accidentally made a repeat appearance for a few frames in last night's Simpsons episode, "Specs in the City." An editor on Simpsons Wiki took a screencap to preserve this watershed moment in network television history for future generations. Those frames have yet to be censored or removed from the Hulu version of the episode (in the name of journalistic integrity, this reporter had to redeem his hard-earned Bing rewards points to get a Hulu Plus subscription in order to confirm it wasn't a hoax).

Presumably, this means either Fox's ban on butts has been lifted, or some rogue animator is getting fired for that blunder.

[Specs and the City via No Homers Club]

Simpson's Ending Soon

oj
OJ Simpson's ending soon. According to The National Enquirer, the athlete-turned-murderer says he "feel[s] the end coming" and has requested an early release from prison so he won't die "like common jailhouse scum."

This could be Simpson's final season:

"OJ's doctors have told him he could be dead in as little as three months because of his out-of-control blood sugar and blood pressure," said an unnamed source.

Created in 1947 by Eunice and Jimmy Lee Simpson, the long-running former running back was popular for many years, but in recent decades has become largely reviled by all but the most fervent of fans.

[Yahoo! News]

NEWS BRIEFS: Piracy, Theme Parks, BAPE

police dogAh, a new year is upon us, giving me a chance to catch up on all the news stories I've neglected over the past few weeks before they get too old to post.

  • The administrator of the now-defunct pirate streaming site WatchTheSimpsonsOnline, which was shut down in October, has been ordered to pay $10.5 million in damages. Now that's a lot of "D'oh"!!!!! [TorrentFreak]
  • Fox is getting back in the theme park game! Twelve years after the miserable failure of their first park, Fox is bringing "Twentieth Century Fox World" to Malaysia, with plans for more. They won't be allowed to feature any Simpsons attractions since the franchise is licensed to Universal, which is kinda like Comedy Central making a theme park without South Park. But they will have a recreation of the Titanic!!! [Variety]
  • Mrs. Krabappel and the late Simpsons writer Don Payne were depicted as angels for a split-second in a recent Christmas episode. That's heartwarming and all, but why are there angels at the North Pole? [E! Online]
  • The Simpsons has teamed up with BAPE for a line of streetwear where they all look dead. [BAPE]

There Was A Bort Reference In Last Night's Episode

Beloved Simpsons joke "Bort" was referenced in last night's episode "Yellow Subterfuge," as roughly half the jokes in modern day Simpsons are just callbacks to old episodes. Apparently, there's a kid named Bort Sampson attending Springfield Elementary, according to this list of names Principal Skinner wields:

Yellow Subterfuge list Bort Sampson
(Click to embiggen)

Yellow Subterfuge list Bort Sampson

Will Bort and Bart ever cross paths? Will Lisa's friend Janey ever get a surname that sticks? Will Skinner ever print out an attendance list that isn't just a random jumble of kids from multiple grades? Keep watching the skis.

[h/t No Homers Club]

Marge Simpson Was On Project Runway

marge dress
Former Playboy model Marge Simpson was on the fashion reality game show Project Runway: All Stars a few days ago in another dumb stunt that's embarrassing for both shows. Contestants had to design a fancy dress for Marge to wear on a dinner date with Homer, because that's definitely in character for her and something that would happen in The Simpsons. Apparently the guidelines were 1. it has to go well with mutant yellow skin, and 2. it can't be green. Also, something about her ass?

THE SIMPSONS IS BEING RENAMED?!?

!!!!!Holy Freaking Cow... bombshell tonight ladies & gentlemen. Bleeding Cool just uncovered evidence that "The Simpsons" is being renamed after 25 long seasons on the broadcast airwaves. The new name... "Bart & Co." As Maggie would say: "What the deuce???"

"It was time for change," said a guy I made up just now. "There was a feeling that the 'The Simpsons' name was no longer relevant to today's tweens so the big boys on the top floor demanded a name change to spice things up."

Will renaming the quarter-century show prove to be a major misstep for Fox and the franchise, or will it be the opposite of that. Those are the questions we're asking.

No word yet on when the namechange will be made official.

Developing...

Fox Sells Simpsons Cable Rights To Itself

simpsons rich

Scrappy cable underdog FXX landed a major deal with its fellow 21st Century Fox subsidiaries 20th Century Fox Television and Twentieth Television (which are different companies, somehow...?) for the exclusive cable and streaming rights to The Simpsons for ten years, and now a bunch of rich people are going to get richer, hooray! The deal is valued at $750 million, making it the largest off-network sale ever.

FXX is a terribly-named spinoff of FX that launched two months ago. It airs comedy shows like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, reruns of Parks & Recreation, and who knows what else. Next August, they'll have every episode of The Simpsons. So many, they don't quite know what to do with them:

FXX is expected to stack six to eight episodes on one or two nights, probably in thematic packages, rather than air them across the week as in traditional syndication.

Hey, I already made things easy for them! Imagine a whole night of those dumb trilogy episodes where historical/fictional figures are replaced with Simpsons characters.

Additionally, every episode will be available streaming on demand:

Deal also calls for the vast archive of "Simpsons" segs to be available on VOD via the soon-to-launch authenticated FXNow mobile viewing app -- which is sure to be a draw for the service as "Simpsons" segs have never been widely distributed online and have never been on any SVOD platform.

Well, not legally - in a weird coincidence, the internet's most popular Simpsons streaming site shut down just a few weeks ago. Naturally, to use FXNow you'll have to prove you're a cable subscriber and not one of those freeloading hippie cord-cutter types. Meanwhile, local stations have run out of good seasons to air:

Most local stations have used up all of their allotted runs of older seasons of the show, even as they get access to the most recent episodes after the conclusion of each season on the Fox network.
Haw haw, nobody wants the newer episodes.

Harry Shearer is bitter because the official press release about the deal names eleven executives - John Landgraf, Chuck Saftler, Gary Newman, Dana Walden, Greg Meidel, Steve MacDonald, James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Chris Antola, and Lori Bernstein - and zero cast members. Shearer and the rest of the cast won't get to share in the profits, and neither will the animators, who continue to deal with pay reductions, shortened production schedules, and longer layoffs.

[Variety]

Seth MacFarlane is Making A Cartoon About Mexican People

Bordertown
With The Cleveland Show cancelled and American Dad heading for TBS, it was looking like Fox might be down to just three Seth MacFarlane-produced shows on their schedule: Family Guy, Dads, and the upcoming Cosmos reboot. Luckily, Fox immediately sprang into action and greenlit his latest cartoon (his fourth for the network), thus maintaining their quota:
Fox has given a 13-episode order to Bordertown, from MacFarlane and Family Guy's Mark Hentemann. Set in a fictitious desert town near the U.S.-Mexico border, Bordertown centers on the intertwining daily lives of neighbors Bud Buckwald and Ernesto Gonzales. Bud, a married father of three, is a Border Patrol agent who feels threatened by the cultural changes that have transformed his neighborhood. Living next door is Ernesto, an industrious Mexican immigrant and father of four, who is proud to be making it in America. As Bud and Ernesto's paths begin to cross, their families become bound by friendship, romance and conflict.

Fox Airs Wrong Mrs. Krabappel Episode

doh
Late last week, Fox announced plans to honor the passing of Simpsons voice actress Marcia Wallace by airing the classic Season 3 episode "Bart the Lover," for which she'd won an Emmy.

However, viewers on Sunday were instead presented with the Season 22 travesty "The Nedliest Catch," the stunt episode where viewers got to decide the fate of Mrs. Krabappel and Ned Flander's relationship, also known as "Nedna."

Entertainment Weekly, which had announced the news, updated their story to explain the switcheroo:

The network originally announced plans to re-air Wallace's Emmy-winning episode from the show's third season, "Bart the Lover," but "technical issues" clearing the 20-year-old episode prevented the last-minute switch and a newer episode featuring her character had to be chosen instead.

Apparently, Fox is now literally incapable of broadcasting quality Simpsons episodes.