September 2014 Archives

Don Hertzfeldt Animated Tonight's Couch Gag

I am a banana
America's greatest living independent animator Don Hertzfeldt (Rejected, Billy's Balloon, It's Such a Beautiful Day) is doing the couch gag for tonight's The Simpsons episode (the one where Krusty's dad dies).
UPDATE (10/2/2014): And here it is:

John Swartzwelder's Long-Lost Western Pilot Is On YouTube

Pistol Pete

Pistol Pete, a 1996 pilot for a Western spoof written and produced by legendary Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder, has surfaced for the first time thanks to a mysterious benefactor on YouTube:

The show centers around Pistol Pete, a fake cowboy starring in a New York City Wild West stage show who becomes the real sheriff of a Western town, played by the impeccable Stephen Kearney. It's kinda like the Adam West Batman series set in the West with absurd Swartzweldian gags.

Like its mysterious creator, Pistol Pete gained some notoriety because pretty much nobody outside the people who produced it had ever seen it. Will Harris of Antenna Free TV wrote a comprehensive account - or at least as comprehensive as you can be about something you've never seen - about it last year, scoring interviews with Kearney and co-star Mark Derwin. Apparently, Swartzwelder was in such high demand that the studio pretty much gave him whatever he wanted. Unfortunately, the Fox network declined to pick it up as a series, possibly because Rupert Murdoch was feeling sleepy when the executives screened it.

Upon discovery (...?) of the video, Swartzwelder e-mailed it to Harris, who then tweeted it to the world. Now, perhaps the only big Simpsons writer "holy grail" that remains is George Meyer's script for an unproduced movie that was to star David Letterman.

[YouTube via Twitter]

Bowl Taken

The Simpsons live show is over now, with far less casualties than the usual Hollywood Bowl event. In defiance of the rules, some audience members recorded it with their cell phones and cameras. Here's a video of the Friday show, which could be taken down at any time:

Dead Homer Society has some more videos of the Saturday and Sunday shows, but I'm not going to bother watching them.

Some observations:

  • "Unlike Seth MacFarlane, Matt [Groening] will not force you to listen to him sing" burnsauce
  • Whoever recorded this decided to leave it on for part of the intermission, but ran out of battery during Jon Lovitz singing the Planet of the Apes musical, and then somehow regained power immediately after. Okay...
  • Jon Lovitz is basically a more likable version of Ricky Gervais.
  • Host Hank Azaria got to live his greatest nightmare onstage because nobody told him a clip he was setting up was cut.
  • The Alf Clausen tribute seemed abrupt and a little at odds with the rest of the show's tone. Still, nice to see the Sideshow Bob motif get its due...
  • Conan O'Brien seemed energetic, but "The Monorail Song" isn't really much of a song, come to think of it.
  • "Do The Bartman" was really disappointing. Granted, it's hard to do the Bart voice while singing in front of hundreds of people with limited stage experience, while also trying to make sure you don't fall off the stage, but still...
  • Here's the weirdest thing: Harry Shearer (who generally doesn't agree to anything that's not in his contract because he feels cheated by Fox) apparently didn't give permission for his voice to be used in clips. So, twice they had to replace him with a "scratch" voice that's REALLY OBVIOUS AND WEIRD. Shearer also declined to do The Simpsons Ride, but his voice is still present in episode clips that play while you're waiting in line, so I don't know what the deal is.

Matt Groening's "I Think We Are Closer To Wrapping It Up" Comment Was More Than Half The Series Ago

Matt Groening giving an interview

During an interview with London's Financial Times back in April 2002, Simpsons creator Matt Groening mused "I think we are closer to winding it up." It was a fairly innocuous comment - the show had been on for over 12 years at that point, and he naturally didn't think it would go on for another 12 - but our alarmist media took it to mean the show was ending immediately, causing something of a global panic. It was all very stupid:

D’OH! THEY’RE MAKING FUNERAL PLANS FOR… THE SIMPSONS (New York Post)
Save the Greatest Show on Earth; Can Simpsons Creator Matt Groening Be Persuaded Not to Quit? (The Evening Standard)
'The Simpsons' may be . . . D'oh! (Philly.com)
Are Homer's days numbered? (Daily Telegraph)
'The Simpsons' soon to bow out (CNN Money)

In an effort to quell the uproar, Groening later clarified, "I don't want anyone to think I am predicting the demise of the Simpsons. They will live on with new adventures for years to come. As long as there are things to make fun of we will be around." The next episode's chalkboard gag also addressed the issue.

At the time of the "wrapping it up" comment, The Simpsons had been on the air for 4,517 days. It has now been 4,518 days since that comment was reported, and there is still no end in sight.

Matt Groening To Play Self In Role Of A Lifetime

matt groening
America's most famous Portlander Matt Groening will guest star as himself in the upcoming fifth season of Portlandia. Groening's previous acting roles include himself, a greaser, and a talking car.

Meanwhile, Japan's most famous Portlander Kamenosuke Yamamoto will guest star in a commercial for Cup Noodle.

[Splitsider]

Simpsons Going Off The Air

Yes, the Simpsons are going off the air... so they can star in an exclusive 3-night concert at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend! Half the cast will be there! Conan O'Brien will do the monorail song! Beverly D'Angelo, Jon Lovitz, and Weird Al will make appearances! Who knows, maybe writer John Swartzwelder will perform one of his legendary death-defying motorcycle stunts!

The Simpsons Take The Bowl
It seems "The Simpsons Take The Bowl" has been in the works for a while - a very long time if the copyright date on this picture drawn by longtime Simpsons director David Silverman is any indication - and some new details are finally oozing out, thanks to the Los Angeles Times and Twitter. Unfortunately, most of the stuff demanded by the fans didn't make it in, but it's still going to make The Simpsons On Ice look like a bootleg puppet show.