GROEN DRAIN

How did Simpsons creator Matt Groening get to be so rich and successful? Well, it turns out he had a trick up his sleeve… a time-traveling trick!!!

It has now become clear that at some point in the future where time travel has become achievable, Matt Groening warped back to Olympia, Washington in the 1970s, and gave his past self a bunch of Simpsons memorabilia and a 20-year plan for creating the franchise and becoming king of all media. Unfortunately, Old Matt didn’t count on Young Matt painting all this new information and hiding it away for years. Now, those paintings – the only known evidence linking him to the crime of violating the Temporal Prime Directive – have resurfaced.

As originally reported by the Kitsap Sun, a 69-year old artist bought some Simpsons watercolors at a Seattle-area thrift store and thinks they were made by Matt Groening when he was a student at the Evergreen State College, more than a decade before the Simpsons shorts began airing on The Tracey Ullman Show. She is now trying to auction them off at $2,000 apiece.

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RIP

Marcia Wallace, the voice of Mrs. Krabappel, died of pneumonia complications Friday night at the age of 70.

Once a student teacher in Iowa, Wallace moved to New York in 1964 and got her start in show business typing scripts. She eventually worked her way up to regular appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, which caught the attention of CBS founder Bill Paley, who personally demanded she be given a role on The Bob Newhart Show in 1972. For six seasons (and a 1994 episode of Murphy Brown), Wallace played the smart-mouthed and lovelorn secretary Carol Kester, a role that made her a star. Afterwards, she became a regular on various game shows, including Hollywood Squares. In the late 1980s she became a voice actress for cartoons including Darkwing Duck, Captain Planet, and The Simpsons. She was also a stage actress in a number of regional productions, including a starring role in An Almost Perfect Person.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985, Wallace became an activist for breast cancer awareness and a motivational speaker. She lost her husband of six years, Dennis Hawley, to pancreatic cancer in 1992, leaving her to raise their adopted son alone. She wrote about her ordeals in her 2004 memoir, Don’t Look Back, We’re Not Going That Way:

Ten years ago, I was a devastated widow with a little kid, a house that was ready to be foreclosed, and a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of debts. Now all that’s paid off and my house is secure. And I’m opening up to new possibilities. Who knows what’s around the corner? I feel ready to find out. You know me, hon, I’m a scrappy gal. And I’m not looking back… ’cause I’m not going that way.

For 25 seasons, Marcia Wallace played Edna Krabappel, Bart Simpson’s acerbic chain-smoking fourth grade teacher. Openly disdainful of her students, Krabappel was a exquisite personification of an uncaring public school system, and her caustic “ha!” became a trademark. She dated Principal Skinner a while, and in recent seasons married Ned Flanders. Wallace won an Emmy in 1992 for her performance in the episode “Bart the Lover.”

Technically a recurring guest star, Wallace is the third cast member of the The Simpsons to pass away, following Doris Grau (Lunchlady Doris) in 1995 and Phil Hartman (Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure) in 1998. As with Hartman’s characters, Mrs. Krabappel’s “irreplaceable character” will be retired, according to showrunner Al Jean:

Before her death Wallace “recorded several lines which will appear in upcoming shows,” Jean said. “But I don’t intend to have anyone else play Mrs. Krabappel. I think Bart will get a new teacher and Ned Flanders will be a widower again.”

Simpsons staffers have been expressing their sympathies. Jean told the Los Angeles Times that she was “sweet, funny, not at all pretentious […] and just a wonderful person to be around.” Co-star Yeardley Smith tweeted “Heaven is now a much funnier place b/c of you, Marcia.” Director David Silverman drew a tribute sketch.

Wallace has a small role in the upcoming film Muffin Top: A Love Story, scheduled for release next year.

[Deadline, TMZ, MarciaWallace.com, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times]

MY TWO CENTS, TOON BEAT

Well, the Maggie Simpson short lost in its bid for an Academy Award, and the world was robbed of the opportunity to see director David Silverman’s majestic beard. Here’s a photopic of Silverman, Matt Groening, and writer Michael Price looking dapper on the red carpet (apparently Silverman and Groening didn’t get the memo to wear this Maggie button):


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ANIMOTION MACHINE

Longest Daycare The Simpsons theatrical short shoved in front of Ice Age 4 last summer, Maggie Simpson in: “The Longest Daycare” (yes, that’s the full title), has been nominated for what’s known in the streets as an “Oscar” award.

Good for them, I suppose. It was definitely one of the better outputs emanating from the Simpsons Franchise Factory this decade. The fact no one had to recite terrible Modern Simpsons dialogue certainly helped. Even those haters at Dead Homers Society enjoyed it. And it was nice to see director and longtime Simpsons drawer-person David Silverman gobsmacked and thanking everybody on Twitter this morning (hey idiot, save the thanks for your acceptance speech!).

It’s the first Oscar nomination for The Simpsons. When The Simpsons Movie was announced, creator Matt Groening quipped “Come next Oscars, we think it’s going to be Milhouse’s night.” Now, I don’t know if they were intentionally gunning for an Oscar then; James L. Brooks just wanted a hit to rebound from Spanglish, and as far as I can tell they never put out one of those “For Your Consideration” advertisements in trade magazines (though voice actor Harry Shearer’s role in For Your Consideration really messes up the search results). But falling short of garnering a nomination in the Best Animated Feature category – deemed not good enough to compete with a movie about a surfing penguin – certainly had to sting. So perhaps this nomination provides some validation for bruised egos, and maybe a win could convince the producers to finally end the show since there’d be no more mountains for the franchise to climb (hahaha, just kidding, this show will go on forever). Win or lose, I’m betting there’ll be more of these shorts, which won’t have to rely on those pesky voice actors and their dumb mortality.

Other notable nominations this year include Wreck-It Ralph, directed by Simpsons alum Rich Moore and written by Simpsons alum Jim Reardon, for Best Animated Feature, and Simpsons arch enemy Seth MacFarlane for a song he wrote for Ted (he’s also hosting the ceremony, if you hadn’t heard). Yes, both The Simpsons and the Family Guy guy are nominated for Oscars this year. Will these Cartoon Wars never cease???

[The Oscars (part of the Go Network)]

MEANINGLESS MILESTONES, SCULLY DUGGERY

scullyThe Hollywood Reporter did a big cover story about The Simpsons in honor its meaningless milestone of having churned out a certain number of product. Former showrunner Mike Scully used the occasion to share his death wish with the nation:

“I think the show will outlive all of us,” says former producer Mike Scully. “Nothing would make me happier than some episode in the future to end with a title card that reads, ‘In memory of Mike Scully.'”

Yup, Mike Scully wants to die. Nothing would make him happier. There is no other way to interpret that quote. After years of death threats from Simpsons nerds, it seems Scully has decided to embrace the icy hand of death.

The rest of the article is mostly just a rehash of the same stories they’ve been telling for years in interviews and audio commentaries (did you know Michael Jackson didn’t do his own singing???), but nonetheless there’s a few interesting tidbits I haven’t heard elsewhere, if you use a charitable interpretation of “interesting.”

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EXCLUSIVE

Bart and MilhouseBeloved cartoon character Milhouse Van Houten might have began life as part of an unsuccessful pitch for a Saturday morning cartoon.

In a discussion on Twitter last week, Simpsons superdirector David Silverman clarified some things about Milhouse’s origins, shooting down rumors he’s just a rip-off of Paul Pfeiffer from The Wonder Years (come on dudes, he’s pretty much just Akbar/Jeff with hair and glasses). He also shared a little more behind-the-scenes information about his first appearance. It’s been known that Milhouse first appeared in a pre-series Simpsons Butterfinger commercial – in 2000, Simpsons creator Matt Groening told TV Guide he “needed to give Bart someone to talk to in the school cafeteria” – but until now it was believed he was created specifically for that commercial.

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KANCELLATION KOUNTDOWN, MY TWO CENTS

First things first: The Simpsons, after days of cancellation rumors amidst a fierce contract negotiation between the voice actors and Fox, has been renewed for not only Season 24 (2012 – 2013), but also Season 25 (2013 – 2014), despite those honest, upstanding Fox “anonymous sources” telling every news outlet within earshot they would only renew it for Season 24 “at most.” That’s right: Twenty-Five. Goddamn. Seasons. Five Hundred Fifty-Nine Episodes. Let’s assume everything after Season 8 is bad. That means by the end of Season 25, the good seasons will comprise slightly less than 32% of the entire series. And this season just started two weeks ago, so we have a guaranteed three seasons of atrocious episodes to look forward to. Excuse me while I go stick my head in the oven.

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ANIMOTION MACHINE

david silvermanKids, I have something to tell you. I know you love your Emmy-winning director of The Simpsons and Monsters Inc. David Silverman very much. Well, he’s been getting very sick lately and sick directors need lots of fresh air so they can get healthy again. Some nice men from MGM came by and they graciously volunteered to put him on a Punk Farm upstate. They’ll going to take good care for him and give him lots of love. He’ll have lots of room to run free, and play the flaming tuba, and direct a CG kids movie about “five barnyard animals who form an underground rock band.” Please don’t be sad. I’m sure David Silverman loves you very much and he wouldn’t want you to worry about him. He’s going to be so happy up there, and make lots of new animator friends. So don’t you worry your precious little head about ol’ David Silverman. He’s in a better place now.

[Variety]

ROCK BOTTOM

A little birdie named wolf puppy has leaked what appears to be a pre-production test shot for the long-awaited sequel to The Simpsons Movie:

ralp

It appears Fox has scrapped the traditional 2-D look of the show in favor of slicker 3-D CGI. Now, many misguided Simpsons purists will surely decry the change in dimensions, but keep in mind that The Simpsons Ride was CGI and many Simpsons directors (David Silverman, Brad Bird, Jim Reardon) have plenty of Pixar experience, so this was inevitable. Developing…

BART ART

Here is the late, great comics legend Harvey Pekar homerized for his 70th birthday by longtime Simpsons director David Silverman:

silverman-pekar

Coincidentally, Dan Castellaneta (voice of Homer) portrayed Pekar in a stage adaptation of his long-running comic American Splendor. [SMITH Magazine via Twitter]