Well, folks, after decades on the air, it looks like they finally stopped making The Simpsons…
…at least in part and only for the time being, as the writers have traded scripting pithy lines for carrying picket signs. The Writers Guild of America declared a strike after arriving at an impasse with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Here are some highlights:
- Over at Jacobin, labor writer Alex Press has a good overview of the strike and the issues surrounding it.
- In the lead-up to the strike, former American Dad! writer Kirk Rudell tweeted about how 20th Television screwed them out of money when the show moved to TBS:
- The Animation Guild – which covers Simpsons animators – put up a Q&A on their website regarding the strike.
- Simpsons writer Rob LaZebnik wrote a Twitter thread outlining what had been achieved in previous strikes:
- Former showrunner Josh Weinstein tweeted about how “mini-rooms” deprive newer writers from the opportunities he had.
- Deadline interviewed showrunner Al Jean on the picket line.
- Could a prolonged strike actually benefit streaming services? Financial Times:
Rich Greenfield, an analyst at LightShed, said a prolonged strike could even boost profits for the major streamers because they would not incur expenses for programming that had not been made — similar to the impact when the pandemic halted production.
This could be especially helpful for entertainment groups carrying heavy debt loads, such as Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount.
A prolonged strike “could lead to notably better than expected streaming profitability”, Greenfield said. “Multibillion-dollar operating losses could come in significantly better than expected.”
- Disney subsidiary ABC Signature, which produces live-action shows, sent out a letter “reminding” showrunners they are required to work in their non-writing capacities, even though the WGA prohibits this.
That’s all for now. Solidarity forever!
Yee-haw, I’ve rounded up another batch of minor Simpsons news and other small findings from across the web.
- Harry Shearer: not a fan of the Super Mario Bros. movie, apparently. [Twitter]
- Speaking of Mario, here’s a 1991 ad where he previews Bart vs. the Space Mutants.
- Showrunner Al Jean recently noted that the cigarette machine is now gone from Moe’s Tavern. In 2022, cigarettes were removed from a Krusty action figure prior to production. Coincidence…?
- Listen, if Avatar gets to be in Disney’s big celebratory anniversary commercial, then The Simpsons should get to be in the Disney racing game. [RacingGames]
- Some Fortnite players were asked in a survey if they’ve heard about Bart Simpson and Peter Griffin, potentially leading to their inclusion in the game. Peter has been rumored for years, but I think Bart is unlikely mainly because he doesn’t fit the height requirement, unless they give him some sort of mecha suit like Morty. Homer on the other hand… [@SentinelCentral via GoNintendo]
- Critic: The Disney+ Simpsons shorts are just commercials
Defender: No they’re not, you’re just a hater!
Al Jean: Hey, I just won another Clio, the advertising industry’s most coveted award! [Twitter]
Red alert! Fox Corporation, the parent company of the Fox network and Fox News, is currently engaged in a $1.6 billion legal battle with Dominion Voting Systems that could potentially destroy the entertainment titan and bring an end to The Simpsons as we know it.
The Dominion suit alleges warped priorities led Fox News to amplify defamatory and highly illogical claims regarding the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, causing “diminution of enterprise value” for the electronic voting machine manufacturer. Text messages and emails gathered from Fox News employees in discovery were recently made public, exposing management’s reluctance to reign in their defiant fleet of star anchors, including Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, lest the network incur the wrath of conservative viewers. Rupert Murdoch, one of the founders of the news channel, privately admitted “maybe Sean and Laura went too far” in letting their impulses drive coverage.
Fox News has long been a ratings crusher and cable star dating back to its launch in 1996, but times are changeling. Data shows traditional linear television is in steady decline as more people cut the cord, and any resistance to this trend is likely futile. After the election, Fox News’s monthly ratings fell behind its longtime nemesis CNN for the first time in decades, a stunning feat suggesting the normally unphased network may need to augment its programming strategy in order to cling on to as many viewers as possible. The next generation of competitors, a pack lead by Newsmax, threatens to beam away Fox’s fracturing audience by catering to a menagerie of Q supporters and other fringe groups. Although it remans the number one news network, the primary directive for Fox News will be to try courting the pro-insurrection crowd while not alienating mainstream conservatives or advertisers, a balancing act of terrific sensitivity that could develop into a no-win scenario. Adding to the chaos, lobbying chief O’Brien departed the company earlier this month, leaving Fox without the experienced Washington voyager as it potentially enters a strange new world of tricky political terrain.
The fate of The Simpsons is greatly linked to Fox’s fortunes, as it is reliant on the network bearing the costs of its production. I’m no diviner, but if Fox News falls into darkness and Fox Corporation suddenly finds itself strapped for cash, the animated series could be headed to the great beyond. Disney purchased the motion picture studio behind The Simpsons from Fox in 2019, so under the rules of acquisition they would have the option to take it elsewhere or make it a Disney+ original series, were the Fox network to cancel the show. However, The Simpsons has enjoyed a long and prosperous life on Fox, a historical feat unlikely to be replicated, and if that day comes the crew may simply decide it’s a good day for the series to die.
(The Walt Disney Company)
On Friday, The Simpsons held its second-ever panel at Disney’s D23 Expo, moderated by voice actress Yeardley Smith. A press release for the panel touted “a surprise so shocking it can’t even be announced in press release form!” Simpsons simps hoping for a big announcement of some kind – a new movie? A spin-off? A new game? The Ullman shorts? Cancellation??? – unfortunately had their dreams denied. Here’s a recap of the event.
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Howdy pard’ners, this here’s a roundup of Simpsons news items from all over yonder.
- Chris Ledesma, the show’s music editor since the series began, has left the show. Although it’s not regularly updated anymore, his blog Simpsons Music 500 was super-informative if you’re into TV production minutae. For example, here’s a post about music spotting notes. [Matt Selman/Twitter]
- Back in 1990, the producers insisted the Simpsons aren’t Toons, although Matt Groening joked “they could be in Roger Rabbit 3!” OK, so the new Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers movie isn’t exactly Roger Rabbit 3, and the Simpsons technically don’t appear in it, but I’m still gonna say that was a prescient call. [Rolling Stone]
- If you’re a parent who’s sick of the absolute filth on Disney+, the Parents Television and Media Council has helpfully provided a list of alternatives, including Daily Wire Kids. [PTC]
- Apparently Rick & Morty exists in Star Trek canon, but whether or not The Simpsons does remains unclear. [Digital Spy]
- Remember the hulabaloo when Hulu announced yet another revival of Futurama and voice actor John DiMaggio (Bender, Randy) was holding out for more money, before finally signing on? Well, he recently admitted at a convention that he was unsuccessful in that regard, saying “trying to get money out of Disney is like trying to get blood from a stone.” [/Film]
A recent Hollywood Reporter story on embattled Disney CEO Bob Chapek opened with this observation:
It is unclear at this point whether Chapek, 61, can execute a reset with Disney staff and creative partners. A cartoon hanging in the production offices of The Simpsons seems to suggest an opinion: It has Chapek in the “In Memoriam” section of the Oscars show.
First of all, what a fuckin’ lame cartoon. Second of all, who cares. Some comedy writers made light of authority, stop the presses.
Well, apparently the Simpsons TOP BRASS care, because the article was updated later in the day to include this parenthetical disclaimer:
(The Simpsons top brass, including Jim Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean and Matt Selman, deny that that there was such a cartoon in the office. “For the sake of the simple truth: No notice concerning Bob Chapek has been on the walls of any Simpson’s office. Since March 2020 all our work has been done remotely due to Covid. Nobody has been in the offices for two years now. We do miss the snack room,” they wrote in a joint statement. The source who spoke with THR said that the circulated cartoon was in fact subsequently taken down.)
That FOUR executive producers felt the need to issue a joint statement about this stupid doodle that may or may not have actually existed is bewildering and pathetic. Do they think they’re going to get sent to the principal’s office? Maybe they’re right and they’re just really concerned about the spread of Fake News. In that case, why not just have one guy deny it, why did they need all four? Was this really an “all hands on deck” scenario? Also, I guess maybe there’s a world of difference between “production office” and “studio,” because this doesn’t look like somebody’s home to me.
Whatever happened, their emphatic denial makes them sound like they’re absolutely terrified of their boss’s wrath, which seems very silly because The Simpsons was once known for biting the hand that feeds them (albeit with the hand’s permission) and other parts of the company haven’t exactly been shy expressing criticism of their leadership lately.
Who knows, maybe years from now we’ll read in DisneyWar 3 about how this absolutely set Chapek off and made him angrily tear up the plans for Simpsons Land at EPCOT or whatever.
The failing Democratic Party mouthpiece Jacobin has published a hit piece on The Simpsons in what could only be described as a pathetic attempt to stay relevant. Like the rest of its contemporaries in the liberal media, it’s clear that Jacobin has no idea what to talk about now that ol’ Donnie Trump is temporarily out of office, so now they’re just throwing stuff at the wall. Hating Modern Simpsons is praxis now? Sure, why not.
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As Disney+ Day turns into Disney+ Night, I thought I’d toss off some thoughts about The Big D’s lackluster non-event.
Why wasn’t there a livestream? A few weeks ago DC Comics had their second annual “FanDome,” a multi-hour livestream that touched on all the company’s upcoming projects and culminated in a new trailer for The Batman. Disney couldn’t have done the same? Instead they just dripped out new announcements in a Twitter thread, and then there were a couple short presentations from Pixar and Marvel added to Disney+. Oh, and they mentioned the wrong Will Smith, who continued to be tagged in every subsequent tweet. Weirdly amateurish for something that was supposedly a big deal for the company. Apparently they went all out at the theme parks and had giant balloons in major cities to promote this???
As for the new Simpsons short… eh, whatever. Seems like maybe it could’ve been a decent series of commercials back when Disney+ launched. “Look, all your favorite characters are together in one place.” Why wasn’t that their marketing campaign? Ah well. Also, I suspect they were using a fake mockup of the service as reference and nobody ever bothered to correct them.
In general, I feel David Silverman’s talents are being squandered on these shorts. Disney+ should just give him a huge budget and let him go hog wild.
Speaking of Simpsons shorts, where are the original shorts from The Tracey Ullman Show? I know it’s a long shot but I was kind of hoping for an announcement. Back when FXX launched Simpsons World, they tried and failed to get them. Disney+ should do what Simpsons Worldn’t: figure out what’s going on with the rights, fire their giant money bazooka at the problem, and get them out there. Now that would be a Disney+ Day miracle.
In honor of Disney+ Day on November 12, the NFT collectible platform VeVe has announced an NFT collection featuring golden digital statues “inspired by” Disney properties. The first two, featuring Homer and Bart choking each other and Bart’s skateboard, will drop tomorrow.
My limited understanding is that NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital artworks that people spend lots of cryptocurrency (pretend computer money) on just so it says on a website somewhere that they are the “owner” of said artwork. Of course, since they’re digital artwork, anyone can just right click and save them, which to a normal person would make “ownership” seem pointless and the whole enterprise seem scammy. They also have the added bonus of being incredibly harmful to the environment. “Hey, don’t have a cow, man, these ones are actually carbon neutral!,” you might say. First, that’s greenwashing. Second, most NFTs look like absolute shit. A massive corporation like Disney getting involved with their giant portfolio of iconic characters helps legitimize the entire cryptoart marketplace.
Are these NFT statues the most immoral pieces of Simpsons merchandise to exist? Probably not. Nevertheless, The Simpsons has been awarded 9 Environmental Media Awards over the years. They should return them if they’re going to choke the planet with this garbage.
¡Ay, caramba! Three years after its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, Disney is pulling the plug on the Fox channel on September 30, to the dismay of Simpsons fans continentwide.
In response to a media query from Channel24, The Walt Disney Company Africa confirms that its FOX channel (DStv 125/StarSat 131) is ending on pay-TV services like MultiChoice’s DStv, StarTimes and StarSat, as well as Zuku across sub-Saharan Africa at the end of September.
Some loyal Fox viewers expressed dismay at the announcement on Facebook. The Simpsons had been a fixture on the channel since its launch in 2010, and with the streaming service Disney+ not scheduled to launch in the region until mid-2022, it is unclear where Simpsons devotees will get their fix.
Fox is among a hundred channels Disney plans to close this year.