As the Walt Disney Company continues to celebrate its 100th anniversary, let us consult the tea leaves and try to speculate just what the entertainment conglomerate wants to do with The Simpsons.
CEO Bob Iger recently spoke about the importance of quality over quantity. Sure, he was specifically talking about Marvel’s recent underperformance at the box office, but maybe, just maybe, he was secretly thinking about The Simpsons, which passed the 750 episode mark this year and is only getting more expensive to license.
There’s a rumor that 20th Century Studios recently greenlit James L. Brooks’s upcoming film Ella McKay in hopes of convincing him to do a sequel to 2007’s The Simpsons Movie. Maybe that’s true, but 20th and Brooks already have a longstanding relationship (his production company Gracie Films is located on the Fox studio lot) and frankly it doesn’t seem like Brooks would need much convincing (the Disney+ shorts were his idea). As I see it, the main obstacles are that everyone is 16 years older and the circumstances that made the first movie possible have changed.
Remember back in 2019 when Matt Groening announced a Disenchantment comic book series? Well, good news, it’s finally being released, four years later and after the show has ended. The podcast Talking Simpsons speculated the delay might’ve been due to behind-the-scenes squabbling between Groening and Disney over Simpsons publishing rights, complicating Groening’s plans for a comics app.
Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro claims they have enough space in Anaheim “to build another Disneyland there if we choose to do that.” Might The Simpsons find a home there if the Universal contract is not renewed?
Howdy pard’ners, he’s some ace-high Simpsons news tidbits rounded up for your reading pleasure.
According to Simpsons Wiki, the last time Homer strangled Bart in normal continuity was in 2019’s “The Winter of Our Monetized Content,” so it would be accurate for Homer in 2023 to say he doesn’t do that anymore. There, I’ve done more research than 99% of the articles about Stranglegate. You know what other gags they haven’t done in a long time? Bart prank calling Moe. Bart saying “Cowabunga.” Troy McClure listing movies you might remember him from. Mr. Burns not remembering Homer’s name. Inappropriate songs playing when characters get put on hold. Marge reminding Homer of a previous lifelong dream. McBain’s crusade against Mendoza. Search for the Sun. Homer’s love of mambo. The family going out for frosty chocolate milkshakes. I guess my point is sometimes things get dropped.
I rarely buy Simpsons merchandise, but I was convinced to shell out some simoleons for Super7’s Scoey and Troy McClure with Fuzzy Bunny figures. Preternia has noted that something is going on with their Simpsons line, but it’s unclear what it is. Concerning.
Disney officially announced they’re buying Comcast’s remaining stake in Hulu, ending speculation that they might instead sell their stake as CEO Bob Iger had floated back in February. In related news, Disney+ will be adding some Hulu content next month for bundle subscribers, with an official rollout in March 2024. I’m curious if Hulu The Disney+ Brand Tile will include next-day episodes of The Simpsons, or if that will remain exclusive to Hulu The Standalone Service.
How do you spell the currency mentioned in “Bart vs. Australia” and an episode of Bluey, dollarydoos or dollar-adoos? Writer Josh Weinstein posted the script, revealing it’s actually dollaridoos. By the way, for just one dollaridoo you can get a Dollarita at your local Applebee’s [SPONSORED CONTENT].
The Simpsons is a television institution that has been on the air for a very long time. Specifically, since 1989. This December it will have been on for 34 years. Have you ever wondered how old The Simpsons would be if it started in 1923? Read on to find out.
Remember when you watched The Simpsons in syndication and you could just enjoy a random episode, without the burden of having to consciously pick one? What if instead of being limited to one episode per evening (or perhaps two or even three depending on your TV market), the show was constantly airing 24/7? Well, that could become a reality sooner rather than later if streaming analysts’ predictions hold true.
Now that the streaming business model has imploded, the studios have realized that the linear TV model it disrupted wasn’t so bad after all and are eager to recoup their lost revenue by getting into FAST (free, ad-supported television) channels, which are essentially fake TV channels with commercials you can stream, many of which are dedicated to one show. Some even have their own services featuring these channels: Paramount has Pluto TV and Paramount+, Fox Corporation has Tubi, NBC Universal has Peacock, and Amazon has Freevee. Warner Bros. Discovery is launching their own service later this year. Even Netflix has hinted at getting in the game.
Disney has had an ABC News Live channel for years, and in May they added a few FAST channels on the ABC app, but so far they haven’t made any major waves in that space. Streaming analysts have mused on the viability of Disney embracing the FAST market and posit that a Simpsons channel would be a no-brainer.
The real question around Disney’s decision to launch an ad-supported Disney Plus offering isn’t whether it’s a good move. Rather, it’s when are they going to take the next step and launch a free ad-supported streaming TV service (FAST) that can compete with Paramount’s Pluto TV, NBCU’s Peacock and Fox’s Tubi?
Of course, the other possibility here is that rather than go for a quick buck now and sell to outside ad-supported platforms, Disney could just launch its own FAST service, as Warner Bros. Discovery is exploring. I don’t think it would make much sense to put anything too obviously Disney on such a platform as it might cheapen the brand. But a service which leaned heavily on the 20th titles, as well as content from ABC (including ABC News), could be a winner.
The first 10 seasons are widely regarded to be the show’s best and would make perfect fodder for a dedicated single-series FAST channel. Disney+ could keep newer seasons behind a paywall, and still have plenty of content for such a channel.
What’s interesting about The Simpsons in particular is that they already were on FAST-like channels, as FX president John Landgraf mentioned in an interview:
When we bought The Simpsons, we built an app called Simpsons World that had every episode ever made in a perfectly searchable system. Then it had so-called channels, which were linear streams of Simpsons episodes. Eighty percent of the consumption was from the linear playlists, and 20 percent was on demand.
The Simpsons is already the most popular show on Disney+. Imagine what those viewership numbers would be if they added a channel that allowed you to drop in and just watch a random episode, freeing you from the tyranny of choice.
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:
If you’re in the WGA, please vote yes on a strike authorization. No one wants to go on strike, but those of us who have been doing this a while have a hundred reasons why we may need to. Here’s one of mine:#WGAStrongpic.twitter.com/6BrpuUPAT9
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.
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.
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. Continue Reading →
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]
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.