SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

duffAs reported here last September, Fox tried to stop a German brewer from producing an unauthorized version of Duff Beer, but were unsuccessful because their trademarks on Duff Beer “weren’t registered for an actual beverage.” So now that a Fox-approved Duff Beer actually exists (despite creator Matt Groening being publicly against it as recently as a year ago), their legal department should have no problem winning future trademark disputes, right?

GROEN DRAIN, JEAN MACHINE

So, pop superstar Justin Bieber had a small 10-second cameo in last Sunday’s Simpsons episode, which seemed to disappoint everyone. Bieber fans didn’t like it because it was too short, unbeliebers thought it was too long, and Bieber himself initially tried to suppress all evidence of it last year.

Perhaps wary of The Controversy, executive producer Al Jean attempted to deflect blame for it onto his boss, Matt Groening:

According to Jean, Groening requested that Bieber be worked into an episode. “I think he has a family member who was a fan,” Jean says. “I think he’s a fan, too. So he asked us to find a place to use him. I think [Bieber] had also met Matt and wanted to be on the show.”

Matt Groening, a Bieber fan? It’s possible, but Groening – a former music critic – is known for his eclectic music taste. He likes oddball rock & roll, Balinese gamelan music, and Romanian brass bands. He said pop music “usually sounds like the audio equivalent of CGI.” He wrote a biography of The Residents. He’s curated the All Tomorrow’s Parties progressive music festival twice. He guest-edited an anthology of music writing. He’s let indie bands Tender Forever and Electrelane hang out at his house. He’s a big Captain Beefheart fan. He interviewed and was friends with Frank Zappa.

Nice try, Al.

[Rolling Stone]

EXCLUSIVE, GROEN DRAIN

Matt GroeningSimpsons creator Matt Groening added yet another company to his only robust portfolio last year, a mysterious entity known as “Bapper Entertainment.” Bleeding Cool suspects he’s “getting ready to reveal” whatever this new thing is. I wouldn’t count on it, though, because making new companies seems to be something of a hobby for him. Let’s take a look at some of the other companies he’s had over the years, shall we?

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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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GROEN DRAIN

bunnyhopSimpsons creator Matt Groening has apparently joined the advisory board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization that’s basically an ACLU for funnybooks. According to its website, one of CBLDF’s missions includes providing “for the legal defense of individuals whose First Amendment rights are threatened for making, selling, or even reading comic books.”

It’s a change of pace for Groening, who’s usually the one playing legal offense.

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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)]

COMING ATTRACTIONS

It was only a matter of time before tween heartthrob Justin Bieber did a guest voice for The Simpsons. And now the inevitable has become reality, and the show’s producers are surely confident it’ll give them a huge ratings boost. It didn’t work last time with Lady Gaga – just the opposite, in fact – but, dog gone it, they’re nothing if not persistent.

The Biebster tweeted the news himself earlier this evening. Here’s his Tweet, embedded below…

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GROEN DRAIN

Matt Groening gave a brief interview with Rolling Stone about ending his long-running comic strip Life in Hell that’s worth reading. He reveals that it was only running in 38 papers, compared to its zenith of 250 or so, which is pretty sad. I did make an effort to check it out every week in the LA Weekly, but when they dropped it there were no other LA-based papers to pick up the slack (at least, as far as I could find) so I haven’t been able to read it on a regular basis for years. I did find out fairly late it was running in The Oregonian, though.

Some choice quotes:

Why pull the plug on Life in Hell now? Did you simply run out of jokes?

It’s pretty obvious that I ran out of jokes a couple of decades ago – but that doesn’t stop any cartoonist!

[A] TV producer sneered at the strip and said, “Why do you bother? Give it up.” Because of that, I dug in my heels and kept it going two decades longer than I might have. I also liked the idea of having one slice of my creative output being completely solo, unlike TV animation. It’s very satisfying to sit down at a drawing table by yourself and solve a puzzle with a deadline.

[Rolling Stone via The Comics Journal]