Like a bunch of lemmings jumping off a cliff, just about every news outlet from CBS News to the E! network to the gadget blog Gizmodo to the New Yorker (!) to the Los Angeles Times to the FOX Network to local newscasts around the country has regurgitated the SHOCKING news that Simpsons creator Matt Groening had finally revealed the location of the fictional cartoon town of Springfield: his home state of Oregon. Except, uh, he didn’t say that at all and you’d have to be severely incompetent at basic reading comprehension to think otherwise?
The National, an English-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, called Simpsons creator Matt Groening “one weird creature” for no apparent reason.
THE BASICS, PART ONE The Simpsons is the longest-running scripted show in television history – and a cultural phenomenon that is recognised the world over. Its creator, the cartoonist Matt Groening, is one weird creature.
What a baffling little statement. There’s no elaboration or explanation whatsoever. “Weird,” okay, I can buy that. But “creature?” Like he’s a jolly little gnome-person or something? And this is supposed one of the basic facts one should know about The Simpsons?
Perhaps The National should change its name to “The Irrational.”
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.
Oh boy, it’s that lovely time every three years or so when the Simpsons cast re-negotiate their contracts with Fox! And this time the stakes HAVE NEVER BEEN HIGHER. The Daily Beast reports that this time the voice actors are asking for a pay cut, instead of their usual pay raise. Say whaa??? Have we wandered into Bizarro World??? No, while they’re asking for a 30 percent pay cut, it’s because they want a piece of that hot, hot syndication and merchandise action worth billions of dollars in CA$H MONEY. Fox doesn’t want to give up that money (after all, their parent company News Corp. has tons of phone hacking victims to pay off), and this time they’re threatening to CANCEL THE SIMPSONS.
Difficult bargaining is nothing new for the show, which was created by James L. Brooks and Matt Groening. Fox studio execs have occasionally threatened to replace uncooperative cast members with sound-alike actors. But for the first time in nearly a quarter century of haggling, the executives have insisted that if the cast doesn’t accept a draconian 45 percent pay cut, The Simpsons will die an abrupt death as a first-run series.
Could the late, great Phil Hartman be revived to reprise his characters in an upcoming Simpsons video game? It’s possible, say the intrepid reporters over at Joystiq.com:
EA even said that it could go back to old shows to pull dialogue; while the company didn’t confirm any specific plans to do so, this method could bring Phil Hartman’s old stable of characters into the game.
On a related note, Hartman’s introductory dialogue in Virtual Springfield is some of my favorite Troy McClure material: “Welcome to Springfield, I’m Troy McClure. You might remember me from such computer travel guides as [randomized joke] and [randomized joke]. You know, the great Calvin Coolidge once called this town ‘a pea-size town with lima bean size dreams.’ So warm up your clicking fingers, and let’s explore a town the poets call Springfield, U.S.A.! *coughs, then walks offscreen*” (Paraphrased from memory. Thanks for nothing, internet). [Joystiq]