VOICE BOX

Negotiations with Harry Shearer appear to have hit a wee bit of a snag, as the longtime Simpsons cast member has apparently announced he’s leaving the show.

Shearer made the announcement on Twitter late last night, quoting an imaginary press release from James L. Brooks’s Lawyer, for some reason. Take a look:

Then he seized the opportunity to plug his new comedy song about cops. Hey, why not?

burning bridge

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D'OH REPORT

doh

Fox announced they were picking up a “DOUBLE D’OHse” of The Simpsons earlier this week, but it turns out they may have forgotten to make sure all the contracts were signed before hitting “send” on that press release.

TMZ is reporting that “one of the key players” is holding out for unspecified reasons. Going by the history of previous contract negotiations, the mystery holdout is almost definitely Harry Shearer, trying to get himself a cut of some of those sweet, sweet back-end profits. If true, this would make his grumpy tweets about how almost none of the news coverage mentioned him pretty ironic, I guess.

In the unlikely event the show’s producers can’t come to an agreement with him, they have a backup plan:

A designer said that Al Jean (longtime executive and consulting producer) is optimistic that new contracts with vocal talent will be finalized, but Matt Groening was reported to have said:

“If necessary, I’LL do the voices.”

WRITER WATCH

Simpsons writer/producer Marc Wilmore announced his departure from the show in a strange series of tweets.

Previously a writer/performer on In Loving Color and The PJs, Wilmore joined The Simpsons in 2000. He was the sole black writer to have been part of the show’s writing staff (Michael Carrington, who co-wrote “Homer’s Triple Bypass” and voiced Sideshow Raheem, wasn’t technically part of the staff).

On Thursday and Friday, he tweeted self-deprecating jokes about his newfound unemployment and suggestions the parting was less than amicable. It’s most certainly all part of a comedy bit, but… what if it wasn’t…?!?

Judge for yourself…

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AZTEC THEATRE, MY TWO CENTS

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.

Some observations:

  • “Unlike Seth MacFarlane, Matt [Groening] will not force you to listen to him sing” burnsauce
  • 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.
VOICE BOX

Harry Shearer

For over two decades, Harry Shearer (voice of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Reverend Lovejoy, and Maggie Simpson) was the only primary cast member to have never won an Emmy for his work in The Simpsons, but this grave injustice was finally rectified last night at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Not bad for someone who’s been phoning it in for years! Unfortunately, he couldn’t show up to collect his prestigious orange blimp award in person, because he’s currently stuck in 1974 after Quantum Leaping into President Nixon.

Oh, and Bob’s Burgers won its first-ever Emmy for the episode “Mazel Tina.” [Deadline]

D'OH REPORT

Mr. Snrub

For the first time in nearly 20 years, The Simpsons wasn’t nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Animated Program category.

Since the show began, it had been nominated in that category every year except 1993 and 1994, when they tried to compete against the big boys in the Outstanding Comedy Series category. After failing to even get nominated both years, thanks to the Emmy’s well-known 3DPD bias, they returned to the Animated Program category in 1995, where they were typically seen as the cartoon to beat. “It is a light thrill to beat Garfield every year, but it’s getting a little old,” quipped Matt Groening in 1992.

Showrunner Al Jean claims they were snubbed:

Re-recording mixers Mark Linden and Tara A. Paul were nominated for Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation, and Harry Shearer – the only main cast member to never win an Emmy for his performance – was nominated for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance.

While the show itself regularly made fun of award shows, the producers don’t hesitate to mention their massive trophy case whenever its quality is called into question. During a nasty spat with Shearer in 2004, Jean rattled off a list of their recent awards:

I am responding to recent comments by Harry Shearer regarding the current quality of the Simpsons. In the past year and a half, our show has won every award it could possibly have won, including emmys for best animated program and voice-over actor (Hank Azaria), four Annie awards (show, writing, directing and song–a feat the Simpsons had never accomplished in the previous 13 seasons) and a writers guild award, which the show had also won never won before. Yesterday I was informed that Dan Castelleneta had won an emmy for his work in the episode “Today I Am A Clown” and we are nominated for three additional emmys (including best animated program) again this year.

Luckily, this obnoxious argument will have to be retired if they can’t even get nominated.

How did this happen? Having learned nothing from the time they submitted “Treehouse of Horror VI” under the belief Emmy voters would be blown away by seeing Homer in 3D, the show submitted their overhyped LEGO commercial. Jean jokingly (?) points the blame squarely at The LEGO Group:

Well, they can always make their own Emmy out of LEGO bricks.

Of course, there may be another reason for the show’s recent Emmy drought. Their last win in the Animated Program category was for “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind” in 2008, the last year of the Bush Administration. Could President Obama be behind this…?

FOX NEWS

simpsons rich

Scrappy cable underdog FXX landed a major deal with its fellow 21st Century Fox subsidiaries 20th Century Fox Television and Twentieth Television (which are different companies, somehow…?) for the exclusive cable and streaming rights to The Simpsons for ten years, and now a bunch of rich people are going to get richer, hooray! The deal is valued at $750 million, making it the largest off-network sale ever.

FXX is a terribly-named spinoff of FX that launched two months ago. It airs comedy shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, reruns of Parks & Recreation, and who knows what else. Next August, they’ll have every episode of The Simpsons. So many, they don’t quite know what to do with them:

FXX is expected to stack six to eight episodes on one or two nights, probably in thematic packages, rather than air them across the week as in traditional syndication.

Hey, I already made things easy for them! Imagine a whole night of those dumb trilogy episodes where historical/fictional figures are replaced with Simpsons characters.

Additionally, every episode will be available streaming on demand:

Deal also calls for the vast archive of “Simpsons” segs to be available on VOD via the soon-to-launch authenticated FXNow mobile viewing app — which is sure to be a draw for the service as “Simpsons” segs have never been widely distributed online and have never been on any SVOD platform.

Well, not legally – in a weird coincidence, the internet’s most popular Simpsons streaming site shut down just a few weeks ago. Naturally, to use FXNow you’ll have to prove you’re a cable subscriber and not one of those freeloading hippie cord-cutter types. Meanwhile, local stations have run out of good seasons to air:

Most local stations have used up all of their allotted runs of older seasons of the show, even as they get access to the most recent episodes after the conclusion of each season on the Fox network.

Haw haw, nobody wants the newer episodes.

Harry Shearer is bitter because the official press release about the deal names eleven executives – John Landgraf, Chuck Saftler, Gary Newman, Dana Walden, Greg Meidel, Steve MacDonald, James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Chris Antola, and Lori Bernstein – and zero cast members. Shearer and the rest of the cast won’t get to share in the profits, and neither will the animators, who continue to deal with pay reductions, shortened production schedules, and longer layoffs.

[Variety]

VOICE BOX

Hank Azaria as GargamelYesterday, 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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NEWS BRIEFS

police dog

  • Conan O’Brien got tired of people always asking him about The Simpsons, so he did a lengthy roundtable discussion with his former co-workers Al Jean, Jay Kogen, Jeff Martin, and Mike Reiss that touches on Tracey Ullman, the writers’ room, Reiss’s feud with a line producer, Sam Simon’s impeccable writing and drawing skills, and The Brady Bunch Variety Hour. My favorite anecdote is Jay Kogen running up to Bruce Springsteen, who instinctively shielded his wife from the crazy person. [Team Coco]
  • After a 30 year run, Santa Monica radio station KCRW is replacing Harry Shearer’s Le Show with something called “TED Radio Hour,” which is either Seth MacFarlane making raunchy jokes in the guise of a horny teddy bear for an hour or repackaged TED Talk lectures where captains of industry share “inspiring” words of wisdom cribbed from Chicken Soup for the Soul. Not sure which is worse. [Los Angeles Times]
  • Not only does Fox’s parent corporation News Corp. have an education division (“If you have three Pepsis and drink one, how much more refreshed are you?”), but said division has created their own Android-based learning tablet. Which is great, because why wouldn’t you want to buy a communication device from a company embroiled in a massive phone-hacking scandal? [New York Times]
NEWS BRIEFS

police dog

  • The Simpsons lost every Annie Award it was nominated for (including one for the infamous rag episode), but Simpsons alumni Rich Moore won Best Director and his film Wreck-It Ralph won Best Feature, so good for him!
  • My Google Alert for “Yeardley Smith sex tape” has finally beared fruit! Here is a photo of Lisa Simpson’s voice actress cavorting with a naked man in broad daylight.
  • Simpsons producer James L. Brooks is literally on the National Rifle Association’s enemies list. No word on Matt “NRA4EVER” Groening, though.
  • Speaking of Brooks, looks like he got his Twitter hacked, with little success at stopping it. He appears to be waging a hilarious battle with the Twitter-jacker over which one is the real one. Just goes to show you, even if you’re a big-time Hollywood mega-producer, you can still get your stuff hacked. Stay protected, yo. [via @vmcampos]
  • Former showrunner Bill Oakley posted the pre-distortion audio file of Ned Flanders from Homer’s chili-induced hallucination. Much respect for Harry Shearer.
  • UNRELATED SIMPSONS IN THE NEWS: 81-year old ex-senator Alan Simpson, namesake of the Simpson-Bowles commission, attempted to perform the Gangnam Style dance in a bid to turn young people into granny-starving deficit hawks. [via kushibo]