Yesterday, 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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Bill 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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Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson and a prominent member of the Church of Scientology, appeared before a legislative hearing at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield (!) to stress that her Scientology-inspired character-education program is totally secular and should be taught to schoolchildren.
The Illinois School Code requires “character education,” defined as “the teaching of respect, responsibility, fairness, [etc.]” to be taught in schools. A House Resolution filed by Rep. Daniel Burke (D-Chicago), recommended several programs and clubs that satisfy that requirement, including Cartwright’s “Good Choices” program, of which the bill specifically “encourages its use and the use of similar programs by educators, coaches, mentors, and other community service leaders.”
Cartwright freely admits “Good Choices” is based on “The Way to Happiness,” a 1980 self-help booklet by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, which teaches important lessons like “Do Not Murder” (precept 8) and “Don’t Do Anything Illegal” (precept 9). While Hubbard’s tract is advertised as non-religious, Newsweek noted that it “uses key words and concepts taken directly from Scientology’s religious lexicon.” Cartwright is a big promoter of the booklet; through her charity, she distributed a million copies of it to the San Fernando Valley in 2007.
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Unlucky message boarder “JowTSJY” was forced to attend a table reading for an upcoming episode wherein Marge becomes a foodie, and he shared his horrifying ordeal with the good people at Simpsons Collector Sector with photographic evidence.
Some interesting observations:
Five of the six main voice actors were in attendance: Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner, and Hank Azaria. Tress MacNeille and Pamela Hayden were also providing their voice acting skills, while Harry Shearer was represented by a speaker phone in the middle of the table. I was informed that Harry Shearer rarely attended the table reads, instead “phoning it in” from home. In fact, I was also informed that Shearer rarely came in to record his lines in the studio. He does that from home over the phone, too!
To be fair, he’s in a different recording studio using ISDN, but it’s still funny to imagine Harry Shearer as Charlie from Charlie’s Angels.
At 10AM the table read began as a man (whose name I didn’t catch) announced that The Simpsons had been renewed for its 23rd season. During the table read, this man narrated the non-dialogue portions of the script
Presumably, this man is showrunner Al Jean, who mysteriously doesn’t appear in any of the photos. That guy is craftier than Arthur C. Korn.
On our way back across the Fox lot, we saw Nancy Cartwright driving away in her Lexus. Her license plate read “4EVER10,” a reference to the fact Bart never ages. Someone mentioned that her old license plate used to read “I DO BART.” If that’s true, I can understand why she changed it!
hahahaha [Simpsons Collector Sector via No Homers Club]
According to a “blind item” over at the reputable-sounding BlindGossip.com, a “bratty actress” on a TV show wanted more money than her fellow cast members, which made TENSIONS SIMMER. Then they REACHED ONE HUNDRED DEGREES CELSIUS when she “used her character to promote an organization with which she is associated.” Now things are all awkward, so she tries to avoid working with her fellow actors whenever she can, and the producers are totally cool with this.
The general consensus in the comments section of both this site and the one over at Gawker (and really, who better to trust than people who post in comment sections on blogs?) is that the actress in question is Nancy Cartwright, voice of TV’s Bart Simpson. You might remember her from such controversies as that time last year when she used Bart’s voice on some robo-calls to promote the Church of Scientology, which would definitely fulfill the “promote an organization” part of the criteria. Other points to consider: the use of the adjective “bratty” (Bart is an anagram for brat, which is one of the fun facts that are obligated to appear in every article about The Simpsons), it’s really easy to avoid fellow cast members if you’re a voice actor (in fact, Maggie Roswell avoids coming into the recording studio altogether by doing all her lines from Colorado), the actors all got a pay raise somewhat recently, and there’s a stupid little doodle of a yellow-skinned lady-pacman. THE PIECES ALL FIT, except for the part where it mentions a “set” which musta been thrown in there to throw us off the scent.
Or it could be Pauley Perrette or something, who knows. [BlindGossip.com]
Like fellow cast member Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer is also part of a cult – the cult of iPhone. [The Guardian]
Nancy Cartwright, voice of TV’s Bart Simpson, has not always been especially vocal about her membership in the always-controversial Church of Scientology. Her autobiography makes no reference to it, nor does her website. Although she’s done a few publicity events for it (one ad in the LA Weekly offered a chance to “Meet the Voice of Bart Simpson At The Scientology Center!”), she has not advocated for the Church in a big way – she didn’t preach the virtues of Xenu while doing publicity for The Simpsons Movie, nor has she tried to plug Dianetics while doing DVD audio commentary. Unlike some of the bigger Scientologist celebrities, she does not lecture Matt Lauer on psychiatry (Tom Cruise), star in movies based on books by L. Ron Hubbard (John Travolta), or leave a show when they make one too many jokes about the religion (Issac Hayes). Last year, however, she donated $10 million to Scientology – twice her annual Simpsons salary and nearly five times more than that deadbeat Tom Cruise – a story which raised a few eyebrows, but generally flew under the radar. A couple days ago, however, audio of Cartwright doing a “robo-call” for some Scientology event was uploaded to the Internet. The story has gotten a lot of attention, garnering more than 2,700 “diggs” on Digg, which is apparently a lot in Internet metrics (?).
Cartwright opens the call with “Hey, man, this is Bart Simpson!” before quickly resorting to her normal voice and saying “Just kidding… this is Nancy Cartwright!” She then announces that she is now “auditing on New OTVIII” (??) and wants to share her “many wins” with you (????). At this point, it doesn’t really seem all that different from getting a robo-call from Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson telling you about how cool Barack Obama is, except it’s for a religion. But Catwright lapses back into her Bart voice several times in the call, laughing and saying, “It’s going to be a blast, man!” in the same voice that used to shill for Butterfinger bars, blurring the line between Nancy Cartwright, real-life person, and Bart Simpson, fictional cartoon character. You can hear it for yourself here, assuming the YouTube of the audio hasn’t been taken down.
A lot of questions arise: does Bart want me to get my thetans checked or just Nancy? When has Bart ever advocated for anything other than eating his shorts, anyway? Legal issues aside (technically, Fox owns the voices of the characters, which came to light when Dan Castelleneta got in trouble for introducing comedian Paul Krassner on his album “Irony Lives!”), is it ethical for voice actors to use an iconic cartoon character in such a way? Should celebrities use their fame to promote their belief system? Does Cartwright ever use her Bart voice to prank call bars?
The cast of The Simpsons finally got around to renegotiating their contracts, thus putting an end to the pay dispute that threatened to tear apart humanity and resulted in at least thirty artists losing their jobs while production was halted. Dan Castellenta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Maggie), and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns) will now each get
$500,000 $400,000 per episode, an increase from $360,000, to donate to Scientology. Ironically, this pay increase comes at a time when viewership has dwindled by nearly fifty percent over the past five years. Aye carumba! [telegraph.co.uk]
Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson, has donated $10 million dollars – twice her annual Simpsons salary and twice what Tom Cruise has donated over the past four years – to the controversial Church of Scientology, thus ensuring herself a first-class seat on the spaceship to Blisstonia. [The Daily Dish!]