JEAN MACHINE

al jean

Al Jean, the guy who’s been in charge of The Simpsons for the past thirteen seasons, told a radio interviewer he is looking for someone else to take over his duties:

We actually have been, just preliminarily, trying to think of a way we could get someone else to do it full-time.

Naturally, Jean is referring to The Critic, the short-lived animated series he co-created with Mike Reiss. Supposedly there is buzz it could be revived for a second time because everything else from the ’90s is being revived (I’ve already pre-ordered my tickets to the Sears Air Conditioner Commercial movie). But, since Jean and Reiss have their hands full with The Simpsons and… uh… whatever Reiss does nowadays, they would need a new person to actually run the show and get called gay by Jon Lovitz on a day-to-day basis.

The thing is: would The Critic even work in the 2010s? Instead of film critics on TV we have something called The Tomatometer, and now that Siskel & Ebert have gone to the concession stand in the sky, the most recognizable film critics today are insufferable YouTube personalities ranting about Jar-Jar Binks. I suppose we’ll find out, maybe.

[LIVE 105 via CinemaBlend]

VOICE BOX

Negotiations with Harry Shearer appear to have hit a wee bit of a snag, as the longtime Simpsons cast member has apparently announced he’s leaving the show.

Shearer made the announcement on Twitter late last night, quoting an imaginary press release from James L. Brooks’s Lawyer, for some reason. Take a look:

Then he seized the opportunity to plug his new comedy song about cops. Hey, why not?

burning bridge

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D'OH REPORT

doh

Fox announced they were picking up a “DOUBLE D’OHse” of The Simpsons earlier this week, but it turns out they may have forgotten to make sure all the contracts were signed before hitting “send” on that press release.

TMZ is reporting that “one of the key players” is holding out for unspecified reasons. Going by the history of previous contract negotiations, the mystery holdout is almost definitely Harry Shearer, trying to get himself a cut of some of those sweet, sweet back-end profits. If true, this would make his grumpy tweets about how almost none of the news coverage mentioned him pretty ironic, I guess.

In the unlikely event the show’s producers can’t come to an agreement with him, they have a backup plan:

A designer said that Al Jean (longtime executive and consulting producer) is optimistic that new contracts with vocal talent will be finalized, but Matt Groening was reported to have said:

“If necessary, I’LL do the voices.”

THE INSIDE SCOOP

future crowd

In an unprecedented move, The Fox Network has renewed the The Simpsons for 254 additional seasons, ensuring America’s Favorite Family will be delighting audiences for centuries to come.

According to a press release, the renewal includes funding for a program codenamed Virtua Script, which developers boast will dramatically cut down on production costs by automating scripts. The program is part of long-term plan for the show to become fully automized by 2041, and achieve sentience soon thereafter.

“I could not be happier about this renewal,” tweeted showrunner Al Jean, who said he plans to upload his consciousness to the machines as soon as it is technologically feasible.

SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

Faulting a dying DVD market, Simpsons showrunner Al Jean announced yesterday that the show’s DVD and Blu-ray sets will be discontinued:


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COMING ATTRACTIONS

kang & kodos

Tonight’s Simpsons episode, The Man Who Came To Be Dinner, features the family getting launched into space and meeting Kang & Kodos in their first major appearance in a non-Halloween, non-clip show context.

The episode has had a long, strange journey: it was first announced back in September 2012 and scheduled to air in May 2013 as the Season 24 finale, but it was mysteriously postponed just two weeks before it was supposed to air. It also did not air in the following season as expected, but is now finally airing in the middle of the current season, nearly 2½ years after it was announced.

Fans had a number of theories about the delay: Animation problems? A lawsuit from Disney? Cold feet about the out-there premise? Saving it for the series finale?

Producers Al Jean and David Mirkin finally revealed the real reason on Twitter: at some point they seriously considered scrapping the episode and reworking it into a sequel to The Simpsons Movie.

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WRITER WATCH

Simpsons writer/producer Marc Wilmore announced his departure from the show in a strange series of tweets.

Previously a writer/performer on In Loving Color and The PJs, Wilmore joined The Simpsons in 2000. He was the sole black writer to have been part of the show’s writing staff (Michael Carrington, who co-wrote “Homer’s Triple Bypass” and voiced Sideshow Raheem, wasn’t technically part of the staff).

On Thursday and Friday, he tweeted self-deprecating jokes about his newfound unemployment and suggestions the parting was less than amicable. It’s most certainly all part of a comedy bit, but… what if it wasn’t…?!?

Judge for yourself…

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NEWS BRIEFS, PANEL PIECES

police dog

The creator of The Simpsons shows off his sweet dance moves, the crew dashes the hopes of Comic-Con attendees, Homer chokes, Bob from Bob’s Burgers flies, and a showrunner becomes a lawbreaker.

  • Witness the raw acting talent of Matt Groening as he interacts with a hologram version of Homer. [YouTube]
  • A couple of of the questions from the audience at the Simpsons panel seemed a wee bit hostile:

    Is there any way to inject fresh blood into the series? “No!” we’re told. But Matt explains that no-one ever leaves the show once they’ve joined the series.

    The next young fan asks if The Simpsons is ever going to end? There are claps as Matt says the show is “going to be around for a while”. “We’ve got two years to run it into the ground and ten years before it ends,” he jokes.

    When one of the most-asked questions about your show is about when it’s ending, maybe it’s a sign you’ve worn out your welcome? [Digital Spy]

  • Maybe it’s funnier in context, but I’m a little baffled someone somewhere decided this scene where Homer struggles to breathe as Lisa helplessly watches was hilarious enough to show at Comic-Con. [YouTube]
  • Here’s some footage from the upcoming Simpsons/Family Guy crossover featuring a surprise cameo from none other than Bob Belcher… which is no longer a surprise, sorry. [Entertainment Weekly]

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JEAN MACHINE

al jean

Remember the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover? Still happening, and it looks like the Family Guy writers are bringing their A game with more of their atrocious rape jokes. Luckily there’s a man who, positively can do, everything he possibly can to keep rape culture at bay: Simpsons executive producer Al Jean.

Jean asked for some minor tweaks but, other than that, he was fine with what the Family Guy writers came up with.

[…]

“We said, ‘Can you cut just one rape joke?'” Jean recalled, straight-faced. “They said, ‘No,’ and we said, ‘OK.'”

Well, at least he tried.

[The Province]

D'OH REPORT

Mr. Snrub

For the first time in nearly 20 years, The Simpsons wasn’t nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Animated Program category.

Since the show began, it had been nominated in that category every year except 1993 and 1994, when they tried to compete against the big boys in the Outstanding Comedy Series category. After failing to even get nominated both years, thanks to the Emmy’s well-known 3DPD bias, they returned to the Animated Program category in 1995, where they were typically seen as the cartoon to beat. “It is a light thrill to beat Garfield every year, but it’s getting a little old,” quipped Matt Groening in 1992.

Showrunner Al Jean claims they were snubbed:

Re-recording mixers Mark Linden and Tara A. Paul were nominated for Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation, and Harry Shearer – the only main cast member to never win an Emmy for his performance – was nominated for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance.

While the show itself regularly made fun of award shows, the producers don’t hesitate to mention their massive trophy case whenever its quality is called into question. During a nasty spat with Shearer in 2004, Jean rattled off a list of their recent awards:

I am responding to recent comments by Harry Shearer regarding the current quality of the Simpsons. In the past year and a half, our show has won every award it could possibly have won, including emmys for best animated program and voice-over actor (Hank Azaria), four Annie awards (show, writing, directing and song–a feat the Simpsons had never accomplished in the previous 13 seasons) and a writers guild award, which the show had also won never won before. Yesterday I was informed that Dan Castelleneta had won an emmy for his work in the episode “Today I Am A Clown” and we are nominated for three additional emmys (including best animated program) again this year.

Luckily, this obnoxious argument will have to be retired if they can’t even get nominated.

How did this happen? Having learned nothing from the time they submitted “Treehouse of Horror VI” under the belief Emmy voters would be blown away by seeing Homer in 3D, the show submitted their overhyped LEGO commercial. Jean jokingly (?) points the blame squarely at The LEGO Group:

Well, they can always make their own Emmy out of LEGO bricks.

Of course, there may be another reason for the show’s recent Emmy drought. Their last win in the Animated Program category was for “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind” in 2008, the last year of the Bush Administration. Could President Obama be behind this…?