ANIMOTION MACHINE

Lauren MacMullanFormer Mission Hill and Simpsons director Lauren MacMullan has apparently directed a new Mickey Mouse cartoon for Disney. Gosh!

There is some speculation over whether the cartoon, “Get A Horse!” is new-but-made-to-look old, or if it’s an abandoned short from back in the day that Disney decided to finish decades later (like 2003’s Destino). The late Walt Disney is apparently voicing Mickey once again. Maybe he’s finally being unfrozen??

MacMullan is a wonderful director who gained some notoriety amongst Simpsons fansites for her unique visual flair, and one of many Simpsons directors to have made the jump to Disney. I vaguely remember seeing a short piece she did for MTV featuring vintage-looking cartoon characters (which I can’t find a video of), so it’s good to know things have come full circle for her.

[Jim Hill Media]

VOICE BOX

Hank Azaria as GargamelYesterday, Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria (Moe, Chief Wiggum, Lisa) survived a close encounter with inhabitants of the notorious investigation-hindering and pony-fetish forum Reddit long enough to answer some of their burning questions. Frankly, his AV Club interview from several years ago was a lot more illuminating and in-depth if you really wanna know more about the Hankster, but nevertheless, here are the highlights from his “Ask Me Anything” interview so you don’t have to navigate Reddit’s terrible comment layout.

First, he tackled the obvious question, whether or not he’s ever seen Dan Castelleneta choke Nancy Cartwright to get the Homer-strangling-Bart scenes just right:

i have never witnessed it, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to prove that it has happened.

In a rather shocking development, it turns out he still likes the show that pays him millions of dollars each year:

mostly i’m too close to the show and love doing it so much to have an objective opinion. i do what i’ve always done, which is show up and enjoy making what they’ve written come to life. the show still really makes me laugh. i’ve certainly seen online over the years, and elsewhere, people criticizing the show. it reminds me of the beatles anthology. there’s this section where people are talking about how the white album isn’t so good…that it was too long and that a lot of the tracks didn’t work, and you see various people saying it wasn’t up to snuff. and then, they cut to paul mccartney who says “yeah, i’ve heard people don’t like the white album, but i say it’s the bloody beatles white album. it’s fucking great.” that’s kind of how i feel about the show.

Panda rape & talking rags? Same thing as the White Album, basically.

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NEWS BRIEFS

police dog

  • Conan O’Brien got tired of people always asking him about The Simpsons, so he did a lengthy roundtable discussion with his former co-workers Al Jean, Jay Kogen, Jeff Martin, and Mike Reiss that touches on Tracey Ullman, the writers’ room, Reiss’s feud with a line producer, Sam Simon’s impeccable writing and drawing skills, and The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. My favorite anecdote is Jay Kogen running up to Bruce Springsteen, who instinctively shielded his wife from the crazy person. [Team Coco]
  • After a 30 year run, Santa Monica radio station KCRW is replacing Harry Shearer’s Le Show with something called “TED Radio Hour,” which is either Seth MacFarlane making raunchy jokes in the guise of a horny teddy bear for an hour or repackaged TED Talk lectures where captains of industry share “inspiring” words of wisdom cribbed from Chicken Soup for the Soul. Not sure which is worse. [Los Angeles Times]
  • Not only does Fox’s parent corporation News Corp. have an education division (“If you have three Pepsis and drink one, how much more refreshed are you?”), but said division has created their own Android-based learning tablet. Which is great, because why wouldn’t you want to buy a communication device from a company embroiled in a massive phone-hacking scandal? [New York Times]
NEWS CORP. NEWS

staticSo there’s this service called Aereo that streams broadcast television (you know, the stuff that you can get for free on your TV) on the web for a monthly fee. The “Fab Four” networks (Fox, CBS, UPN, and the DuMont Network) aren’t too happy about it, since none of that monthly fee is going to them. It also undermines the princely retransmission fees they get from cable & satellite providers, because then a cable company could say to them “hey, that internet service gets your content for free, why can’t we?” and they don’t really have a good answer to that. Naturally, they tried to sue Aereo out of existence, except it didn’t work out because the courts say Aereo is a-okay-o.

Well, Fox isn’t having any of that. A guy from their parent company News Corp. is straight up threatening to take the Fox network off the air and have it become a cable company if Aereo is allowed to continue operating:

“We need to be able to be fairly compensated for our content,” Carey said. “This is not an ideal path we look to pursue, but we can’t sit idly by and let an entity steal our signal. We will move to a subscription model if that’s our only recourse.”

…he said, twirling his whimsical mustache evilly. Does News Corp. train its executives to sound like supervillians or does it come naturally to them?

This move would leave millions of viewers who watch via antenna (many of them economically disadvantaged) deprived of their favorite Fox shows like The Cleveland Show and The Following. If the other networks follow Fox’s lead, this could mean The End of Television As We Know It.

In a weird twist, Aereo is backed by Barry Diller, the founder of the Fox network who the evil corporate plutocrat Mr. Burns is partially based on. Is he a bad enough dude to bring down the very network he created??? Only time will tell…. [Bloomberg]

GROEN DRAIN

bunnyhopSimpsons creator Matt Groening has apparently joined the advisory board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization that’s basically an ACLU for funnybooks. According to its website, one of CBLDF’s missions includes providing “for the legal defense of individuals whose First Amendment rights are threatened for making, selling, or even reading comic books.”

It’s a change of pace for Groening, who’s usually the one playing legal offense.

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SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

homer butterfingerThe Simpsons and Butterfinger brand chocolate bars had a long and fruitful endorsement deal – one that began even before the series started – generating over a hundred (!?!) commercials over a period of 13 years. Then, for unknown reasons, Butterfinger terminated the partnership in 2001. Not one to leave bridges unburned, The Simpsons poked fun at their former corporate partner in the 2002 episode Sweets & Sour Marge, as described in Chris Turner’s book Planet Simpson:

In a Season 13 episode, the Springfield court imposes a total ban on sugar. A giant bonfire is built to burn all the sugary treats in Springfield, and some police officers attempt to throw a pile of Butterfingers onto the blaze. As they hit the fire, though, a sort of force field surrounds them, and they’re thrown back, unburned. “Not even the fire wants them,” Chief Wiggums notes ruefully.

A later episode, Half-Decent Proposal, featured the chalkboard gag “I will not bite the hand that feeds me Butterfingers,” indicating Butterfinger was unhappy with the joke and made their displeasure known.

And so, for over a decade, Bart Simpson never so much as laid a finger on a crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery Butterfinger. Spokespeople including Seth Green, Lou “Iron Man” Ferrigno, and Jaime Pressly were brought in as replacements for Bart, but things just weren’t the same. Could those two bar-crossed brands ever reconcile and form a new advertising partnership?

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