Chris Ledesma, who served as music editor of The Simpsons for decades, has died at the age of 64. His passing was announced with a tribute card at the end of last night’s episode, “My Life as a Vlog.”
Ledesma had worked on The Simpsons from the start of the show until his retirement last May, working closely alongside the show’s longtime composer Alf Clausen. According to Wikisimpsons, he is credited on 735 episodes, along with the Disney shorts and the soundtracks.
In 2011, he launched a blog, Simpsons Music 500, where he provided a behind-the-scenes look at the show. There, he’d delve into production minutiae, such as this post about music spotting or this one about scoring sessions, becoming an invaluable resource for fans. He also used the blog to regularly answer Simpsons fans’ questions about music cues, and this generosity extended to his Twitter account. I recall he did a livestream prior to scoring session at least once, where he highlighted some of the players in the orchestra, although it doesn’t appear to be archived anywhere.
Writer/producer Carolyn Omine eulogized him in a tweet: “Chris Ledesma was a sweet man who loved his job and was really, really good at it. We miss him.”
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Howdy pard’ners, this here’s a roundup of Simpsons news items from all over yonder.
- Former Simpsons composer Alf Clausen has dropped his wrongful termination lawsuit against the show, from which he was fired via email in 2017. Clausen, who was passed over for The Simpsons Movie in favor of Hans Zimmer, was replaced by Zimmer’s “Bleeding Fingers” composing collective, and the orchestra he led for decades was replaced with a more budget-friendly synthesizer. Simpsons producers claimed they let him go because “they didn’t think the classical- and jazz-inclined Clausen was up to the challenges of more contemporary tunes.” You know, like a parody of “America” from the 1957 musical West Side Story or “Tonight (Quintet),” also from West Side Story. [Deadline]
- Way back in 2006, I wrote a quick post about fashion designer Ivy Supersonic accusing Simpsons producer Sam Simon of stealing her idea for a squirrel/rat character and putting it in the Ice Age movies, which he had nothing to do with. Recently, there were some viral tweets claiming Disney no longer owns the character Scrat as a result of her long legal crusade, which doesn’t appear to be, uh, true. Charles Kenny of The Animation Anomaly did some digging and cleared some things up. [The Animation Anomaly]
- Holy shit you guys…. there was a thing about trucks in Canada, and wouldn’t you know it… The Simpsons featured a truck once!!!! [Reuters]
- What happens when Universal Studios’s Simpsons contract expires in 2028? Will Disney try to do their own version of Springfield? Podcast: The Ride discussed that and more in an episode all about The Simpsons Ride. Here’s my proposal: a version of CityWalk called Hulu Highway featuring businesses from Disney’s more “adult” properties: Moe’s Tavern from The Simpsons, Paddy’s Pub from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Drunken Clam from Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers from Allen Gregory, ISIS Headquarters from Archer, etc. [Podcast: The Ride]
The Simpsons live show is over now, with far less casualties than the usual Hollywood Bowl event. In defiance of the rules, some audience members recorded it with their cell phones and cameras. Here’s a video of the Friday show, which could be taken down at any time:
Dead Homer Society has some more videos of the Saturday and Sunday shows, but I’m not going to bother watching them.
- “Unlike Seth MacFarlane, Matt [Groening] will not force you to listen to him sing”
- Whoever recorded this decided to leave it on for part of the intermission, but ran out of battery during Jon Lovitz singing the Planet of the Apes musical, and then somehow regained power immediately after. Okay…
- Jon Lovitz is basically a more likable version of Ricky Gervais.
- Host Hank Azaria got to live his greatest nightmare onstage because nobody told him a clip he was setting up was cut.
- The Alf Clausen tribute seemed abrupt and a little at odds with the rest of the show’s tone. Still, nice to see the Sideshow Bob motif get its due…
- Conan O’Brien seemed energetic, but “The Monorail Song” isn’t really much of a song, come to think of it.
- “Do The Bartman” was really disappointing. Granted, it’s hard to do the Bart voice while singing in front of hundreds of people with limited stage experience, while also trying to make sure you don’t fall off the stage, but still…
- Here’s the weirdest thing: Harry Shearer (who generally doesn’t agree to anything that’s not in his contract because he feels cheated by Fox) apparently didn’t give permission for his voice to be used in clips. So, twice they had to replace him with a “scratch” voice that’s REALLY OBVIOUS AND WEIRD. Shearer also declined to do The Simpsons Ride, but his voice is still present in episode clips that play while you’re waiting in line, so I don’t know what the deal is.
Yes, the Simpsons are going off the air… so they can star in an exclusive 3-night concert at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend! Half the cast will be there! Conan O’Brien will do the monorail song! Beverly D’Angelo, Jon Lovitz, and Weird Al will make appearances! Who knows, maybe writer John Swartzwelder will perform one of his legendary death-defying motorcycle stunts!
It seems “The Simpsons Take The Bowl” has been in the works for a while – a very long time if the copyright date on this picture drawn by longtime Simpsons director David Silverman is any indication – and some new details are finally oozing out, thanks to the Los Angeles Times and Twitter. Unfortunately, most of the stuff demanded by the fans didn’t make it in, but it’s still going to make The Simpsons On Ice look like a bootleg puppet show.
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Matt Groening and David X. Cohen provided one of the night’s several references to the writer’s strike as they approached the podium with strike signs to collect their award for Futurama: Bender’s Big Score (Best Home Entertainment Production). Cohen joked that the writers had granted the Annie Awards a waiver for that one category alone. After winning the Annie for Music in an Animated TV production, The Simpsons composer Alf Clausen thanked Groening for using L.A. studio musicians and a 35-piece orchestra for every episode of his long-running show. He was modest as always comparing himself to Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth husband. “I know what to do, but I don’t know how to make it interesting!”
Hey idiots, the strike’s over! [Animation Magazine]