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]