Back in 1994, there were plans for a spinoff of The Simpsons centered around Krusty the Clown moving to Los Angeles and becoming a talk show host. The twist is that the show would’ve been live-action, with Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Krusty, starring as the character. Creator Matt Groening, who co-wrote a pilot script with The King of Queens creator Michael Weithorn, was quoted in a 1999 Entertainment Weekly article reflecting on the challenges of working in live-action:
We had this running joke in the script that Krusty was living in a house on stilts and there were beavers gnawing their way through the stilts. But somebody at the network pointed out how expensive it was to hire trained beavers — and an equally prohibitive cost would be to get mechanical beavers — so I said, “If we animated this, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
And that was absolutely everything we ever knew about the project… until now!
Simpsons expert @ThatGuy3002, known for his deep dives into scripts on Twitter, found out a lot more about the ill-fated spinoff, and shared his findings in a tweet thread:
Click through to read the whole thread, which reveals plot details about the surprisingly death-heavy pilot episode, how another Fox show about an alcoholic clown may have poisoned the well for clown-related entertainment, and what really killed the spinoff (spoiler: money). I have my doubts about the quality levels of what sounds like a Larry Sanders rip-off mixed with the 1992 Boris and Natasha movie, but I’m nevertheless fascinated by this odd footnote in Simpsons history. It doesn’t sound like production ever went any further than the script, but if any photographic evidence of Dan Castellaneta in full-blown Krusty makeup exists, please please please share it with the world.
Legendary Simpsons producer David Mirkin (he’s the guy took over the show in Season 5 and ran it for two of the best years ever) is doing a little interview with the AV Club about his previous show, the cult classic Get A Life starring David Letterman’s former ward Chris Elliott, the complete series of which which is finally on DVD. The first part of the interview is up, and it’s good reading. I learned way more about Mirkin’s past life than from listening to Simpsons commentaries. Like, I didn’t know he’d worked with one of the Monty Python guys, and it’s insane that he’s had full creative control of just about everything he’s ever done. Here’s some choice quotes about his comic sensibilities…
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For the past few years, Dead Homer Society has been the finest source of Simpsons criticism on the internet, dutifully diagnosing the symptoms of what it affectionately calls “Zombie Simpsons.” Well, now the site’s frontman Charlie Sweatpants has written a whole mini-book on the subject, Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead.
In it, he meticulously lays out not only why The Simpsons is so ridiculously bad now but also how it got that way, with charts and footnotes and stuff! The whole treatise will be parceled out chapter by chapter on the website over the next couple weeks, but if you have a Kindle you can get the whole dang thing right now for just three bucks. Do it or else a Zombie Simpson will fly into your kitchen and make a mess of your pots and pans
[Dead Homer Society]
David Foster Wallace, the celebrated author of the novel Infinite Jest and seminal anti-cruise diatribe “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” may be dead dead dead in real life, but apparently he’s still alive and kickin’ it in the Simpsons universe. Here’s a framegrab of someone who strongly resembles him in the background of the latest Simpsons episode, cleverly entitled “A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again,” as spotted by No Homers Club poster Real Melvin:
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Al Jean, executive producer and current showrunner:
“Nobody’s perfect,” Mr. Jean said in a telephone interview. “But I don’t think we have terrible secrets to hide.”
John Ortved, author of The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History:
The story ran in the August 2007 issue, and by the fall I’d signed on with Faber and Faber to expand the material into a book. When word of this got out, [executive producer James L.] Brooks sent a letter to every current Simpsons employee, and all the former ones he thought mattered, asking them not to speak to me. The writers’ agents sent denial after denial for interview requests and eventually stopped responding altogether. When I asked a mutual acquaintance to put in a query with Ari Emanuel, chief of the Endeavor agency (now WME Entertainment) – where many of the Simpsons writers were represented – Emanuel told my friend he couldn’t even begin to talk about it. James L. Brooks was on the warpath.
Celebrated Goosebumps author Stephen King churned out a new book, Under the Dome, which features a town encased in a giant dome (possible metaphor???), which The Internet immediately declared to be a rip-off of The Simpsons Movie, which was of course the first movie to feature a dome. King denied these grave charges of plagiarism, claiming to have come up with the plot when he started the story in the 1970s, which pre-dates The Simpsons by a week or two. He further attempted to prove his innocence by scanning the first 60 pages of his manuscript, typed out in their original IBM typescript, which should erase any lingering doubts because faking old typewriter fonts is impossible.
It should be noted that even if King ripped off The Simpsons Movie, The Simpsons Movie is itself a rip-off of Neon Genesis: Evangelion, so uhhhh double jeopardy?? [The Independent]
The newly News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal had Mark I. Pinksy, author of The Gospel According to The Simpsons, review the new Flanders’ Book of Faith in a move that’s totally synergystic! [Wall Street Journal]