MY TWO CENTS

Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss and Mathew Klickstein; released 2018, available at HarperCollins

Feels like a Season 4 episode in that there’s a lot of funny jokes but also a lot of filler


JEAN MACHINE

al jean

Al Jean, the guy who’s been in charge of The Simpsons for the past thirteen seasons, told a radio interviewer he is looking for someone else to take over his duties:

We actually have been, just preliminarily, trying to think of a way we could get someone else to do it full-time.

Naturally, Jean is referring to The Critic, the short-lived animated series he co-created with Mike Reiss. Supposedly there is buzz it could be revived for a second time because everything else from the ’90s is being revived (I’ve already pre-ordered my tickets to the Sears Air Conditioner Commercial movie). But, since Jean and Reiss have their hands full with The Simpsons and… uh… whatever Reiss does nowadays, they would need a new person to actually run the show and get called gay by Jon Lovitz on a day-to-day basis.

The thing is: would The Critic even work in the 2010s? Instead of film critics on TV we have something called The Tomatometer, and now that Siskel & Ebert have gone to the concession stand in the sky, the most recognizable film critics today are insufferable YouTube personalities ranting about Jar-Jar Binks. I suppose we’ll find out, maybe.

[LIVE 105 via CinemaBlend]

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]
BONGO BEAT, SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post’s headline mistakenly said “atom” instead of “at them.” IN THE NEWS regrets the error.

radioactive man collectionThe most critically underrated component of the enormous Simpsons media empire is the Radioactive Man spin-off comic book series occasionally put out by creator Matt Groening’s Bongo Comics, which after 18 years is finally being collected in a deluxe hardcover anthology.

First, a little backstory. The premise of Radioactive Man is simple but ingenious: each issue was purported to be a random issue from the fictional comic book series’ nearly 50-history, satirizing different comic book eras (Golden Age, Silver Age, etc.) and all the superhero conventions and gimmicks that come with it. There was initially a six-issue run in 1994, starting with #1 (mostly consistent with what we saw of it in the Simpsons episode “Three Men and a Comic Book”) and ending with a Spawn-tastic #1000, followed by an “80 page colossal” the following year. A second run debuted in 2000, this time written by the remarkable Batton Lash, with a noticeable improvement in the artwork. Each issue also featured faux ads from the Simpsons universe and letters from readers playing along with the joke (however, the letters in the second series were all fictional; i.e. #222 features a letter from a young Marge Bouvier). Everyone at Bongo is a giant comics nerd (the first issue of Simpsons Comics is a Fantastic Four reference, for example) and Radioactive Man really let them go hog-wild, sort of like how The Critic allowed Simpsons writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss do all the movie parodies they wanted.
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EXCLUSIVE, OAKLEY CORRAL

PrinceBill Oakley has done it again. Last Friday on Twitter, the former Simpsons showrunner revealed his personal top ten Simpsons episodes that were “pitched, discussed, [and] written,” but, for whatever reason, never produced and lost to the sands of time.

Now, most of our competition would just lazily copy & paste the list and call it a day, but we here at rubbercat.net/simpsons have much more respect for you, the reader. We have attempted to dig up as much information about these would-be episodes as possible, from audio commentaries, interviews, and story outlines, to bring you the most complete picture of these extra-bonus-non-episodes as possible. Let’s run through the list, shall we?


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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]

TOON BEAT

mike reissFamily Guy: “It’s like watching The Simpsons after three beers.”

King of the Hill:King of the Hill is like The Simpsons after… three strokes.” [UGO]

EXCLUSIVE

After finding out former Simpsons writer David M. Stern (Bart Gets an F, Kamp Krusty) developed Ugly Americans (watch it!! it’s cool), I got curious and decided to find out what some other ex-Simpsons people are up to. DISCLAIMERS/CAVEATS: 1. I basically only looked at wikipedia and imdb, so this could be rife with inaccuracies, etc. 2. With some exceptions, I don’t care about anyone who joined the show after it got bad or only wrote like one episode 3. This is essentially limited to movies/tv, since the internet assumes people fell off the face of the earth if they’re not doing something for mass audiences

Richard Appel (writer): Showrunner for The Cleveland Show

Wes Archer (director): Was working on The Goode Family until it got cancelled; unclear what he’s currently doing

Brad Bird (director): Doing a live-action movie for Pixar (zuh????)

Daniel Chun (writer): Now writing for The Office

David S/X. Cohen (writer): His beloved baby Futurama returns in June on Comedy Central

Jonathan Collier (writer): MIA

Jennifer Crittenden (writer): Producing mysterious project called What’s Your Number?

Greg Daniels (writer): Co-creations The Office and Parks and Recreation still going strong

Brent Forrester (writer): Writer for The Office

Ken Keeler (writer): Nerding it up at Futurama

Jay Kogan (writer): Executive producer for some supernatural live-action Nickelodeon show called The Troop; writing an adaptation of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Lauren MacMullan (director): MIA

Jeff Martin (writer/clown): MIA

George Meyer (writer): Occasionally contributes to The New Yorker

Bill Oakley (showrunner, seasons 7 – 8): Writing stuff from Portland

Conan O’Brien (writer): Legally prohibited from being funny on television

Jim Reardon (director): Presumably still Pixarin’ it up

Mike Reiss (showrunner, seasons 3-4): While technically still a producer for The Simpsons (I think??), he’s been doing a bunch of other projects like writing children’s books, computer-animated movies, and the critically-unacclaimed My Life in Ruins

David M. Stern (writer): Developed Ugly Americans, which recently debuted on Comedy Central

Mike Scully (showrunner, seasons 9-12): Writer on Parks & Recreation

John Swartzwelder (writer): Still cranking out funny books from his secret underground lair

Sam Simon (executive producer/showrunner, seasons 1-2): Doing some poker thing

Jon Vitti (writer): Co-wrote an upcoming movie starring Steve Carell; currently working on something called “Boo U.”

Josh Weinstein (showrunner, seasons 7-8): MIA??? Wikipedia says he’s a producer on Futurama (again), but I’m not sure if I believe that

Frank Welker (voice actor, Santa’s Little Helper): Most recent voice credit is “Additional Nuts Voice”

Lona Williams (beauty pageant winner/writing assistant): MIA

Wallace Wolodarsky (writer): Voiced an opossum in Fantastic Mr. Fox; adapting a Philip K. Dick story into a Disney cartoon

WRITER WATCH

Former showrunner and occasional (?) Simpsons writer Mike Reiss wrote a film, My Life in Ruins, which was savaged by critics. Reiss seems most perturbed that nobody got his nerd joke:

Several critics singled me out, calling me “an idiot,” “an imbecile,” and “sub-literate.” Now, I opened the film with an allusion to Voltaire – a sign reads “Pangloss Tours: ‘The Best of All Possible Worlds’.” In Candide, Dr. Pangloss utters these optimistic words before his group sets out on an utterly disastrous journey. Just like the tourists in my film! Get it? The critics didn’t. Not one caught the allusion. Otherwise, they’d have called me a “sub-literate moron who reads Voltaire.”

[Nerd World]

COMING ATTRACTIONS, JEAN MACHINE, MY TWO CENTS

In the opening of the upcoming annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode, Homer attempts to vote for Barack Obama, remarking that “it’s time for change,” but his EVIL ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE marks it as a vote for John McCain. A scuffle ensues, and the machine ends up killing him. (SPOILER ALERT: The previous two sentences may have contained spoilers).

In an eerie parallel, Al Jean has entered his eighth consecutive season of running the show, more than any other showrunner’s “term of office” in the show’s history. If his two years co-running the show with Mike Reiss during seasons 3 and 4 are taken into account, Jean will have been a showrunner for half the show’s run by the end of this season. Is it time for change? Even Homer thinks so. [Wonkette]