DIS INFORMATION

An image of Bob Chapek with Simpsons producers behind him in the background.

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.

GENERAL SWARTZ-WATCH

An image of a statue of John Swartzwelder in The Simpsons.

John Swartzwelder has given his first-ever interview with The New Yorker, where the legendary Simpsons writer talks at length about his past and reflects upon his work.

This is a huge surprise, because Swartzwelder has a reputation as a mysterious, eccentric guy. As John Ortved wrote in his book, “Swartzwelder is an enigma. No one I interviewed knows much about the man, and unlike [George] Meyer, he has never given an interview or spoken publicly about himself or his work.” Fellow Simpsons writer Matt Selman blogged, “John Swartzwelder is immensely private. He would not want to be blogged about.” The only time his voice has been heard publicly is when showrunner Mike Scully called him during a DVD commentary (in an interview with the podcast Talking Simpsons, Scully says he had to give him an animation cel to get him to sign a release form). Amazingly, he still holds the record for most episodes written, even though he left the show nearly two decades ago.

In the interview, which writer Mike Sacks says was “in the works for over a year,” Swartzwelder reflects on his time in advertising and Saturday Night Live, offers some great writing advice, clarifies some misperceptions about the diner booth he installed in his home, shares his thoughts on the deification of the Simpsons writers’ room (“I know some people think of us as gods, and maybe we are. I’m not saying we’re not gods.”) and the word “Swartzweldian” (“about the most awkward-sounding word in the English language”), reveals his favorite season, and confirms the mostly-promotional Twitter account @JJSwartzwelder is him. He also mentions a cartoon he drew for George Meyer’s cult zine Army Man featuring “some nicely drawn chickens” with perfect beaks (you be the judge).

The whole thing is oozing with great jokes and is very much worth your time.

[The New Yorker]

NOISELAND ARCADE

A mashup image of The Simpsons: Bug Squad!

Looks like Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t the only unfinished game with bugs in it!!!!!!

Cyberhackers have uncovered a tech demo for what was initially assumed to be a never-produced Simpsons video game for the Sega Dreamcast, titled The Simpsons: Bug Squad!. Produced by the now-defunct Red Lemon Studios in late 2000 to demonstrate its Toon Renderer engine to Fox Interactive, the demo consists solely of a roach clad in military gear that can jump around a cel-shaded Simpsons kitchen and TV room while Homer walks around. pcwzrd13, who got the demo to work, produced a video playthrough. Others, like Stranno, managed to get outside to the backyard, where Bart is also walking around.

Andy Campbell, a co-founder of Red Lemon Studios, clarified some things on Twitter:

Speaking of unreleased Simpsons video game stuff, series producer Matt Selman revealed last summer that his favorite Simpsons game to work on was an unreleased Mario Party-like game. The unexpected discovery of The Simpsons: Bug Squad! gives hope that perhaps we’ll get to see it someday, along with who knows what else…

[Dreamcast-Talk.com]

MY TWO CENTS, SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

armour hot dogs

Shocking news for Simpsons fans concerned about the artistic integrity of an episode based entirely around a name-brand product: it turns out The Simpsons‘s upcoming 30 minute LEGO commercial was partially funded and essentially proposed by The LEGO Group.

Entertainment Weekly casually mentioned The LEGO Group’s financial stake in the episode in an interview with producers Matt Selman and Brian Kelley:

Lego helped pay for the episode. How much input did the company have into the creative side? I understand that there was a sex scene between Lego Homer and Lego Marge that they wanted to tone down.


KELLEY:

Let’s say we had a lot of fun with the Lego sex scene, and I’m not surprised that it was a little too risque. But we’ll always treasure the memory. [Laughs] They were good partners. Our audience is slightly older than their audience, so they would occasionally have concerns, but all the words in the episode are ours. If they had an objection, which they did on very rare occasions, we’d find a way around it.

Good to know that a show with “a near-total absence of network interference” (virtually unheard of in the industry) is now taking notes from a toy company.

Continue Reading →

WRITER WATCH

Matt SelmanSplitsider did a pretty good interview with current Simpsons writer (and rubbercat.net/simpsons reader) Matt Selman. About half of it is just plugging his latest episode, Homer the Hipster (which he’s already defending), but there’s still some good insights. Selman talks about his thoughts on a final episode, how those lazy layabouts Tom Gammill and Max Pross have finally – after being on the writing staff for over a decade – written an episode, how the staff tries to make sure the show doesn’t feel like a Jay Leno monologue (except, uh, when they actually do Leno monologues), and getting fired from Seinfeld. Then the interviewer gets him to tell the “Mayor of St. Louis” story, which is pretty funny:

It’s starting to get very awkward because he’s sort of addressing his whole speech to me and putting me on the spot and humiliating me and saying, “Who said this about East St. Louis? Have you ever been to East St. Louis?” I’m feeling very uncomfortable and awkward. ‘Oh man, I’m so dead.’ I unfortunately showed my true colors by selling out the others writers by saying that I didn’t write the joke in the show about East St. Louis [and] someone else wrote it [and] we all wrote it together, even though my name was on the script.

There you have it: by his own admission, Matt Selman is a gullible liar, a man who should not be trusted, but is also incredibly trusting. So dark, the duplicity of man.

[Splitsider]

WRITER WATCH

marge surprisedWriter/producer Matt Selman and former writer/murderer Dana Gould are doing a “thing” this Thursday at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles. If you pay them 10 bucks, they will regale you with anecdotes about working for The Simpsons in the post-funny era, answer questions about wizard keys, as well as – and this is the important part – give you all the backstage dirt, like “Who punched a box?” If any of you readers out there end up going to this thing, please please please tell me who punched the box. I desperately need to know.

[NerdMelt]

AZTEC THEATRE

Famous comedy duo “Eric & Tim” appeared in the sure-to-be-classic “Marge Becomes A Food Blogger” episode of The Simpsons last night and sang a rap song about being a foodie, which you can watch below courtesy of YouTube user “MelZtube80.”

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WRITER WATCH

mike reissClassic Simpsons writer Mike Reiss usurped current Simpsons writer Matt Selman’s Xanga page to spin a sordid tale of lies, deceit, greed, and avarice. In the cutthroat world of children’s literature, celebrities have all the advantage, while run-of-the mill schlubs like Emmy Award-winning comedy writer Mike Reiss are forced to eat bowls of tough breaks for brunch. It seems a certain “Steve Martin,” famous person and noted bluegrass musician, penned a little book titled Late for School (adapted from the song by the same name), which as M. Reiss points out, is uncannily similar to Reiss’s 2003 book, also titled Late for School:

Both tell the story of a boy facing adventure on a mad dash for school. Both are written in verse. Both have the boy jumping over a pool (it rhymes with school). The biggest difference is that my book’s final twist has the boy arriving at school right on time, and then – spoiler alert! – realizing it’s Sunday. In Steve Martin’s book, it’s Saturday.

Well, well, well. Looks like these celebrity punks who’ve been taking picture book jobs away from real Americans are finally going to get their comeuppance. Reiss is holding all the cards here. Undoubtedly, he’ll slap Martin with a lawsuit so fast his head will explode. This will be the literary theft case of the decade. This will be —

I’m not saying Steve ripped off my book, or even knew it existed. Steve Martin is a brilliant comedian, playwright and novelist. I’m thrilled that we had the exact same idea. And that I had it seven years earlier.

I… b-but…. whaaa?…. *sputters incoherently* [Techland]