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.
Disenchantment creator Matt Groening appears to have quietly launched a YouTube channel last night. Currrently its sole video is “Trumpy’s Rhapsody,” a short cartoon directed by Dwayne Carey-Hill featuring Donald Trump singing a song, with the lyrics credited to Groening and Dan Castellaneta (TV’s Homer Simpson) providing the voice.
This raises some questions:
Why now? For someone who’s arguably the most famous cartoonist of the era, it’s remarkable that Matt Groening has maintained almost zero internet presence. His personal website was supposedly “under construction” for years (the domain name appears to have lapsed) and outside of the rare promotional Q&A, he’s had no official social media account or means of communicating directly to fans. Which is fine, because it’s always disappointing when you follow someone and discover they have a weird axe to grind against Cuba or whatever, and it’s also really funny to me when people – sometimes people he works with – unknowingly tag phony accounts.
What the hell did I just watch? This Trump Jib-Jab thing with Putin jokes is, uh, not my cup of tea, to put it politely. Groening is a rich, aging baby boomer Democrat (albeit one who donated to orb queen Marianne Williamson during the primaries) who works in the entertainment industry, which partially explains why he’s succumbed to Trump derangement syndrome like the rest of his peers. But I still can’t quite wrap my head around a line like “Sorry I ruined the Republican party!” coming from the same guy who drew this.
Why do it independently? The Simpsons has been putting out godawful Trump shorts since he announced his candidacy. Why Groening chose not to use the existing Simpsons infrastructure is a real head-scratcher. Was it somehow considered too edgy???
What’s next? Was this a one time thing? Could this be the start of his own version of Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy? Who knows!
[Matt Groening on YouTube via Bob Mackey]
Yesterday, 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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Just how nice is Dan Castellaneta, voice of TV’s Homer Simpson? He is so nice that he will give you his house, if you ask him.
His best friend in the whole wide world, Simpsons co-worker Hank Azaria (Apu, Moe, etc.), was in the market for a new mansion after selling his home. Hearing that his good friend was now homeless, Castellaneta stepped up to his plate, and sold him his current mansion, the place where he lives and sleeps, because that is how nice a guy he is. Now, some people might let you stay in the guest room for a couple days or something, but Dan Castellaneta will just straight up give you his house.
So where are the Castellanetas going to live now? Nobody knows, maybe they will live in their car from now on. Only time will tell. [Los Angeles Times]
Like Ms. O’Donnell, Lisa has dabbled in witchcraft and lied about her college attendance.
Nobody really likes either politician, but they can manage to hold on to their jobs as long as they’re up against really polarizing candidates, like homicidal maniac Sideshow Bob or Tea Party weirdo Sharron Angle.
The tough-guy candidate threatened to “take out” a reporter, and wielded a baseball bat like a crazy man during his bizarre concession speech. Now, for legal reasons, I’m not saying Paldino is part of the mob, but he seems to be channeling Springfield mafioso Fat Tony.
Nevada reporters tried to get Angle to answer questions, but she remained stubbornly silent, much like the perpetually binkied Simpson baby. Also, both appear to be in favor of exercising “Second Amendment remedies.”
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Popular songstress and harpy Joanna Newsom is reportedly appearing in an upcoming Simpsons episode. It’s being described as a “guest appearance,” but I have reason to believe this is merely a smokescreen for the real truth: the producers are secretly bringing in Newsom to replace Yeardley Smith as the voice of Lisa Simpson.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: hey, the Yeardster’s voiced America’s favorite starfish-haired feminist for nearly 25 years! They’re not just going to throw her under the bus! Well, let’s take a look at the evidence:
FACT: Newsom’s voice is often compared to that of Lisa Simpson’s.
FACT: The voice actors are not getting any younger.
Just look at what happened to Frank Welker, who used to voice the dog: the producers discovered Dan Castelleneta could voice the dog just as good, so they gave Frankie the boot. Could history repeat itself again when Newsom comes in to record what she believes is a cameo? Let’s say, hypothetically, a director slides her a script and asks her, just for funsies, to read some of Lisa’s lines. And what if, that night, the producers get together, in secret, and compare her vocal track with Smith’s… and decide Newsom’s is better?
If I were Yeardley Smith, I’d be looking over my shoulder at all times. And I were Joanna Newsom, I’d leave the harp at home, in order to prevent any Nancy Kerrigan-type shenanigans… Developing… [TwentyFourBit ]
UPDATE (10/20/2010): IN THE NEWS has successfully shamed the producers from going through with their plan, and Joanna Newsom’s cameo is definitely not happening. Yeardley Smith, you’re welcome. [Pitchfork]
Here is the late, great comics legend Harvey Pekar homerized for his 70th birthday by longtime Simpsons director David Silverman:
Coincidentally, Dan Castellaneta (voice of Homer) portrayed Pekar in a stage adaptation of his long-running comic American Splendor. [SMITH Magazine via Twitter]
Huffington Post blogger Harry Shearer was once again hosed by the TV gods, who failed to nominate him for a prestigious “Emmy” orange blimp award in the category of “Best Voice-Talkin’ Guy.” Shearer, voice of Mr. Burns, Smithers, Lenny, and Principal Skinner, among others, has only been nominated in that category once (in 2009) and is the only regular Simpsons cast member to have not won it (the others somehow all won in 1992, WTF?). Dan Castalleneta (Homer), Hank Azaria (Moe), and Anne Hathaway (the princess in that godawful 20th anniversary episode) are nominated this year along with Seth Green, Dave Foley, and Coach McGuirk. [Los Angeles Times]
Nancy Cartwright, voice of TV’s Bart Simpson, has not always been especially vocal about her membership in the always-controversial Church of Scientology. Her autobiography makes no reference to it, nor does her website. Although she’s done a few publicity events for it (one ad in the LA Weekly offered a chance to “Meet the Voice of Bart Simpson At The Scientology Center!”), she has not advocated for the Church in a big way – she didn’t preach the virtues of Xenu while doing publicity for The Simpsons Movie, nor has she tried to plug Dianetics while doing DVD audio commentary. Unlike some of the bigger Scientologist celebrities, she does not lecture Matt Lauer on psychiatry (Tom Cruise), star in movies based on books by L. Ron Hubbard (John Travolta), or leave a show when they make one too many jokes about the religion (Issac Hayes). Last year, however, she donated $10 million to Scientology – twice her annual Simpsons salary and nearly five times more than that deadbeat Tom Cruise – a story which raised a few eyebrows, but generally flew under the radar. A couple days ago, however, audio of Cartwright doing a “robo-call” for some Scientology event was uploaded to the Internet. The story has gotten a lot of attention, garnering more than 2,700 “diggs” on Digg, which is apparently a lot in Internet metrics (?).
Cartwright opens the call with “Hey, man, this is Bart Simpson!” before quickly resorting to her normal voice and saying “Just kidding… this is Nancy Cartwright!” She then announces that she is now “auditing on New OTVIII” (??) and wants to share her “many wins” with you (????). At this point, it doesn’t really seem all that different from getting a robo-call from Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson telling you about how cool Barack Obama is, except it’s for a religion. But Catwright lapses back into her Bart voice several times in the call, laughing and saying, “It’s going to be a blast, man!” in the same voice that used to shill for Butterfinger bars, blurring the line between Nancy Cartwright, real-life person, and Bart Simpson, fictional cartoon character. You can hear it for yourself here, assuming the YouTube of the audio hasn’t been taken down.
A lot of questions arise: does Bart want me to get my thetans checked or just Nancy? When has Bart ever advocated for anything other than eating his shorts, anyway? Legal issues aside (technically, Fox owns the voices of the characters, which came to light when Dan Castelleneta got in trouble for introducing comedian Paul Krassner on his album “Irony Lives!”), is it ethical for voice actors to use an iconic cartoon character in such a way? Should celebrities use their fame to promote their belief system? Does Cartwright ever use her Bart voice to prank call bars?
The cast of The Simpsons finally got around to renegotiating their contracts, thus putting an end to the pay dispute that threatened to tear apart humanity and resulted in at least thirty artists losing their jobs while production was halted. Dan Castellenta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Maggie), and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns) will now each get
$500,000 $400,000 per episode, an increase from $360,000, to donate to Scientology. Ironically, this pay increase comes at a time when viewership has dwindled by nearly fifty percent over the past five years. Aye carumba! [telegraph.co.uk]