Red alert! Fox Corporation, the parent company of the Fox network and Fox News, is currently engaged in a $1.6 billion legal battle with Dominion Voting Systems that could potentially destroy the entertainment titan and bring an end to The Simpsons as we know it.
The Dominion suit alleges warped priorities led Fox News to amplify defamatory and highly illogical claims regarding the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, causing “diminution of enterprise value” for the electronic voting machine manufacturer. Text messages and emails gathered from Fox News employees in discovery were recently made public, exposing management’s reluctance to reign in their defiant fleet of star anchors, including Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, lest the network incur the wrath of conservative viewers. Rupert Murdoch, one of the founders of the news channel, privately admitted “maybe Sean and Laura went too far” in letting their impulses drive coverage.
Fox News has long been a ratings crusher and cable star dating back to its launch in 1996, but times are changeling. Data shows traditional linear television is in steady decline as more people cut the cord, and any resistance to this trend is likely futile. After the election, Fox News’s monthly ratings fell behind its longtime nemesis CNN for the first time in decades, a stunning feat suggesting the normally unphased network may need to augment its programming strategy in order to cling on to as many viewers as possible. The next generation of competitors, a pack lead by Newsmax, threatens to beam away Fox’s fracturing audience by catering to a menagerie of Q supporters and other fringe groups. Although it remans the number one news network, the primary directive for Fox News will be to try courting the pro-insurrection crowd while not alienating mainstream conservatives or advertisers, a balancing act of terrific sensitivity that could develop into a no-win scenario. Adding to the chaos, lobbying chief O’Brien departed the company earlier this month, leaving Fox without the experienced Washington voyager as it potentially enters a strange new world of tricky political terrain.
The fate of The Simpsons is greatly linked to Fox’s fortunes, as it is reliant on the network bearing the costs of its production. I’m no diviner, but if Fox News falls into darkness and Fox Corporation suddenly finds itself strapped for cash, the animated series could be headed to the great beyond. Disney purchased the motion picture studio behind The Simpsons from Fox in 2019, so under the rules of acquisition they would have the option to take it elsewhere or make it a Disney+ original series, were the Fox network to cancel the show. However, The Simpsons has enjoyed a long and prosperous life on Fox, a historical feat unlikely to be replicated, and if that day comes the crew may simply decide it’s a good day for the series to die.
Pistol Pete, a 1996 pilot for a Western spoof written and produced by legendary Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder, has surfaced for the first time thanks to a mysterious benefactor on YouTube:
The show centers around Pistol Pete, a fake cowboy starring in a New York City Wild West stage show who becomes the real sheriff of a Western town, played by the impeccable Stephen Kearney. It’s kinda like the Adam West Batman series set in the West with absurd Swartzweldian gags.
Like its mysterious creator, Pistol Pete gained some notoriety because pretty much nobody outside the people who produced it had ever seen it. Will Harris of Antenna Free TV wrote a comprehensive account – or at least as comprehensive as you can be about something you’ve never seen – about it last year, scoring interviews with Kearney and co-star Mark Derwin. Apparently, Swartzwelder was in such high demand that the studio pretty much gave him whatever he wanted. Unfortunately, the Fox network declined to pick it up as a series, possibly because Rupert Murdoch was feeling sleepy when the executives screened it.
Upon discovery (…?) of the video, Swartzwelder e-mailed it to Harris, who then tweeted it to the world. Now, perhaps the only big Simpsons writer “holy grail” that remains is George Meyer’s script for an unproduced movie that was to star David Letterman.
“Spinoff!” Is there any word more thrilling to the human soul? Well, today billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, CEO of FOX’s parent company News Corp., confirmed he’s splitting his baby in half and spinning off his cherished print assets (including the publishing company HarperCollins, which has published almost all Simpsons books) into a separate company within the next 12 months. Although Murdoch denies it has anything to do with the phone hacking scandal, this move will help insulate FOX News from the British tabloids that done did the hacking, allowing the cable news channel to maintain its high standards and journalistic integrithahahaha
The Simpsons appended this incredibly minor “jab” at Fox News to the rebroadcast of the first episode, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire, which aired as part of Fox’s twenty-fifth anniversary celebration Sunday night:
Despite its severe lameness (We don’t like Fox News! LOL!), it still got a bunch of press coverage from places like the Huffington Post (takes shot!), Hollywood Reporter (skewered! blasted!), and Zap2It (trashes!) … and that was before professional pinhead Bill O’Reilly weighed in.
The Hollywood Reporter did a big cover story about The Simpsons in honor its meaningless milestone of having churned out a certain number of product. Former showrunner Mike Scully used the occasion to share his death wish with the nation:
“I think the show will outlive all of us,” says former producer Mike Scully. “Nothing would make me happier than some episode in the future to end with a title card that reads, ‘In memory of Mike Scully.'”
Yup, Mike Scully wants to die. Nothing would make him happier. There is no other way to interpret that quote. After years of death threats from Simpsons nerds, it seems Scully has decided to embrace the icy hand of death.
The rest of the article is mostly just a rehash of the same stories they’ve been telling for years in interviews and audio commentaries (did you know Michael Jackson didn’t do his own singing???), but nonetheless there’s a few interesting tidbits I haven’t heard elsewhere, if you use a charitable interpretation of “interesting.”
Bad news for The Simpsons‘s corporate parent’s corporate parent: it turns out people get mad when tabloids hack into their phones! Over the past decade, some News Corp.-owned UK tabloids have hacked, or at least have tried to hack, into the phones of former prime minister Gordon Brown, 9/11 & 7/7 victims, and the families of dead soldiers. Journalism! Once it was revealed that News of the World had hacked into a dead girl’s voicemail – and even deleted some her messages to make room for more – the newspaper was shut down this week after 168 years of publication, nearly half the lifespan of The Simpsons.
Charlie Sweatpants of the sycophantic Simpsons blog Dead Homer Society nicely asked the Vatican’s newspaper (The Vatican Plain-Dealer) for an unabridged copy of the story where Pope Ratzinger personally declared himself to be the world’s biggest Bart fan and they tried to charge him eight whole euros ($800 American) for the privilege of reading an untranslated article. Has the Catholic Church adopted Rupert Murdoch’s pay-for-news business model? [Dead Homer Society]
Rupert Murdoch purchased the Dow Jones today, and with it the Wall Street Journal. Among the changes made to the internationally renown financial paper includes scrapping the well-known hedcut style of portraiture accompanying articles in favor of Simpsonized portraits. [MySpace Finance]
At least according to the author of a new book, Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich: Spike’s Guide to Success:
“I’m not saying that being good looking won’t get you a date, but as for success – forget it,” said [Richard] St. John, who names multimillionaires Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates as examples of that principle.
“I apologize for calling them ugly,” he said. “In fact, I think they are just average, but there’s an inverse relationship between looks and success. The uglier they are, the richer they are.”
Ugly people discussed in the book include Groening, Rudy Giuliani, Barbra Streisand, Russell Crowe, Martha Stewart, Norman Lear, Quincy Jones, the Google founders, the discoverer of DNA and Ben of Ben & Jerry’s. [Buffalo News]