JEAN MACHINE

al jeanAfter twenty years on the air, it should be hard to come up with fresh, new ideas for the show, right? Not so, says executive producer Al Jean:

If you look at The Daily Show, which is obviously on daily, I mean, they’re still hilarious after ten years. And we’re only on weekly, so we really have the liberty of picking and choosing the ideas that we turn into episodes. The world is a very interesting place and The Simpsons is a great way to view it.

See, The Daily Show comes on four times a week and it’s hilarious. Well, what if you took only the best parts of those four episodes and crammed them into one episode a week? That would be four times as hilarious, and that’s what The Simpsons is, supposedly. [TV Squad]

COMING ATTRACTIONS, JEAN MACHINE, MY TWO CENTS

In the opening of the upcoming annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode, Homer attempts to vote for Barack Obama, remarking that “it’s time for change,” but his EVIL ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE marks it as a vote for John McCain. A scuffle ensues, and the machine ends up killing him. (SPOILER ALERT: The previous two sentences may have contained spoilers).

In an eerie parallel, Al Jean has entered his eighth consecutive season of running the show, more than any other showrunner’s “term of office” in the show’s history. If his two years co-running the show with Mike Reiss during seasons 3 and 4 are taken into account, Jean will have been a showrunner for half the show’s run by the end of this season. Is it time for change? Even Homer thinks so. [Wonkette]

WRITER WATCH

In a fan Q+A, The Office writer-actor Mindy Kaling (Kelly) namedrops Simpsons writer Danny Chun, who was apparently “raving about Hot Chip and Vampire Weekend like fifteen years ago.” Given Mike Scully’s love for NRBQ and Al Jean’s love for on-the-nose musical montages, Chun needs to be promoted to executive producer immediately. [Office Tally]

COMING ATTRACTIONS, MY TWO CENTS, PANEL PIECES

Despite reports to the contrary, the next season is looking to be a continuation of the death spiral that was the past two seasons, if the Simpsons panel at Comic-Con is any indication. A look at what’s to come:

  • Yet another Nelson episode: Really? Again? Who could have imagined that there would be so many goddamn episodes exploring the emotional life of the kid who says “haw haw?”
  • Another slam at the on-screen FOX advertising bugs:

    The panel was brought to a close with a clip from the upcoming season’s Halloween episode. In it, Marge is decorating cupcakes that look like jack-o’-lanterns. She pokes fun at the fact that Halloween “was last week,” but at the Simpsons’ house they’re still celebrating (a nod to the fact that the Halloween episodes never air on Halloween). While she’s speaking, the American Idol “bug” pops up on screen. Marge is upset by this, grabs her Dust Buster and sucks the logo up. She tries to start speaking again, but the Fox Sports “bug” pops up and a bunch of mini-football players run out. Marge kills them with bug spray. Next, 24 (along with a mini-Jack Bauer), Family Guy (with mini-Peter Griffin) and House bugs (with mini-Dr. House) appear. Marge grabs Jack and sticks him to the fridge with a magnet. Next, she “blends” Peter to death with a cappuccino frother. Lastly, she grabs Dr. House, sticks him in the microwave, and blows him up. Cut to the family sitting at the dining room table and Marge walking in with fresh baked bread. “Dinner is served,” says Marge. She slices off a piece of bread to reveal the various body parts of all these guys spelling out “Treehouse of Terror XVII.”

    OK, it was kinda funny when Homer ate Joe Millionaire, but this is comedy cancer.

  • More character returns: This time it’s Lurleen Lumpkin, the country singer Homer managed, and Sideshow Bob’s brother Cecil, following in the footsteps of such other pointless Jean-era returning characters as Homer’s Mother, Bob the RV salesman, Artie Ziff, and The Guy Who Originally Owned The Dog.
  • Al Jean is going to remain showrunner forever: Says No Homers Club poster elephant6rawk, who was there and asked them if they plan on replacing Jean as guy in charge of the show any time soon. There is no hope for The Simpsons.

[IGN]

UP LATE WITH McBAIN, WRITER WATCH

Responding to a comment by current show runner Al Jean that he would have simply ”laughed” off an invite to work on the movie, in Entertainment Weekly for its Simpsons cover story that hits stands this Friday, O’Brien deadpanned:

“I cleared my talk show schedule for a year at great financial cost to myself, got an apartment right outside the Fox lot, and told them I was ready to report to work. All I heard back was that they were having trouble finding me a parking space, and then they stopped returning my calls altogether. I am stunned and disappointed…. Truth be told, I worry that the Simpsons-writing portion of my brain has been destroyed after 14 years of talking to Lindsay Lohan and that guy from One Tree Hill, so maybe it’s all for the best.”

[Entertainment Weekly]

MEANINGLESS MILESTONES

Is executive producer Al Jean hepped up on goofballs, or is he just reading off a generic press release? Read this in a stoner voice and decide for yourself:

Jean recalled the magic of making the first full-length episode, The Simpsons’ Christmas Special. “That show – wow – it was one of the best things,” said Jean, who has served as the show’s head writer and, since 2001, its executive producer… “It had emotion, humor – it was just beautiful,” Jean recalled… “A lot of times, we first think about who we would like to meet and then write a character for them,” he said. “The show has had a lot of success in getting people to come on.” When asked for some his favorite celebrity performers, Jean immediately ticks off names: “Well, Phil Hartman, of course. Kelsey [Grammer] has been great. Jon Lovitz is really amazing. Eric Idle was great. We even had George and Paul and Ringo from the Beatles… It was very exciting when Liz Taylor came on to do Maggie’s voice. She said one word, ‘Daddy,'” Jean recalled. “Ms. Taylor had a little dog – and a ring bigger than my fist. It was all very ‘movie star.'”

IMPORTANT NEWS DISCLOSURE: A publicist for parade.com sent me an e-mail and asked if “[I] could make this announcement on [my] website and include a link to Parade.com” [Parade]

GROEN DRAIN

TW: Fans talk of the golden age, seasons three through eight or nine. Now that you’re into season 18, haven’t there been other phases, maybe a new renaissance?

MG: I don’t feel like I want to defend the show to people who don’t like it, but I would say that the animation is better, that we’re doing shows that I defy anybody to say that we’ve already done. We’re coming up with, I think, ideas that are certainly surprising to us. And the show still makes me laugh. That’s all I care about. I hope that it makes other people laugh, too.

For comparison to other executive producers:

Al Jean: “I think the last couple years have been among our best”
James L. Brooks: Season 17 is “a classic”
Matt Groening: Animation is better, surprising new ideas, still makes him laugh [The Wave]

BART ART

Here’s a pretty generic update on the upcoming movie from the LA Times, with some mildly entertaining new tidbits – the producers seem to advise walking in with low expectations, Groening doesn’t know off-hand how many spikes of hair Bart has, director David Silverman wants it to be as wide as possible. But the real highlight of this article is this delightful Silverman drawing of Homer and Bart being chased by Silverman, Groening, Al Jean and James L. Brooks:

[Los Angeles Times]