Disenchantment creator Matt Groening appears to have quietly launched a YouTube channel last night. Currrently its sole video is “Trumpy’s Rhapsody,” a short cartoon directed by Dwayne Carey-Hill featuring Donald Trump singing a song, with the lyrics credited to Groening and Dan Castellaneta (TV’s Homer Simpson) providing the voice.
This raises some questions:
Why now? For someone who’s arguably the most famous cartoonist of the era, it’s remarkable that Matt Groening has maintained almost zero internet presence. His personal website was supposedly “under construction” for years (the domain name appears to have lapsed) and outside of the rare promotional Q&A, he’s had no official social media account or means of communicating directly to fans. Which is fine, because it’s always disappointing when you follow someone and discover they have a weird axe to grind against Cuba or whatever, and it’s also really funny to me when people – sometimes people he works with – unknowingly tag phony accounts.
What the hell did I just watch? This Trump Jib-Jab thing with Putin jokes is, uh, not my cup of tea, to put it politely. Groening is a rich, aging baby boomer Democrat (albeit one who donated to orb queen Marianne Williamson during the primaries) who works in the entertainment industry, which partially explains why he’s succumbed to Trump derangement syndrome like the rest of his peers. But I still can’t quite wrap my head around a line like “Sorry I ruined the Republican party!” coming from the same guy who drew this.
Why do it independently? The Simpsons has been putting out godawful Trump shorts since he announced his candidacy. Why Groening chose not to use the existing Simpsons infrastructure is a real head-scratcher. Was it somehow considered too edgy???
What’s next? Was this a one time thing? Could this be the start of his own version of Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy? Who knows!
[Matt Groening on YouTube via Bob Mackey]
The Simpsons live show is over now, with far less casualties than the usual Hollywood Bowl event. In defiance of the rules, some audience members recorded it with their cell phones and cameras. Here’s a video of the Friday show, which could be taken down at any time:
Dead Homer Society has some more videos of the Saturday and Sunday shows, but I’m not going to bother watching them.
- “Unlike Seth MacFarlane, Matt [Groening] will not force you to listen to him sing”
- Whoever recorded this decided to leave it on for part of the intermission, but ran out of battery during Jon Lovitz singing the Planet of the Apes musical, and then somehow regained power immediately after. Okay…
- Jon Lovitz is basically a more likable version of Ricky Gervais.
- Host Hank Azaria got to live his greatest nightmare onstage because nobody told him a clip he was setting up was cut.
- The Alf Clausen tribute seemed abrupt and a little at odds with the rest of the show’s tone. Still, nice to see the Sideshow Bob motif get its due…
- Conan O’Brien seemed energetic, but “The Monorail Song” isn’t really much of a song, come to think of it.
- “Do The Bartman” was really disappointing. Granted, it’s hard to do the Bart voice while singing in front of hundreds of people with limited stage experience, while also trying to make sure you don’t fall off the stage, but still…
- Here’s the weirdest thing: Harry Shearer (who generally doesn’t agree to anything that’s not in his contract because he feels cheated by Fox) apparently didn’t give permission for his voice to be used in clips. So, twice they had to replace him with a “scratch” voice that’s REALLY OBVIOUS AND WEIRD. Shearer also declined to do The Simpsons Ride, but his voice is still present in episode clips that play while you’re waiting in line, so I don’t know what the deal is.
When Simpsons news falls through the cracks, Lewis Black catches it, in a feature we like to call “NEWS BRIEFS,” because we couldn’t think of a more creative name.
- Ex-Simpsons/Futurama writer Patric Verrone trailed in his bid for State Senate and won’t be advancing to the general election in November. This is great news, because he now has more time to work on his Supreme Court figurines. [Variety]
- The town of Springfield, Oregon is getting an officially-sanctioned Simpsons mural even though they’re not “the real Springfield” and don’t deserve diddly squat. Go to hell, Springfield, Oregon. [The Oregonian]
- Some fans held off on buying the barebones DVD version of The Simpsons Movie because they were expecting Fox to “double-dip” by selling a more deluxe set with more features later on. That ended up never happening, and Simpsons head honcho Al Jean has confirmed there are no current plans to release one. He blames the dwindling home video market, but I think we all know the real reason: it was axed once the executives realized it could never live up to my joke version. [Al Jean via Twitter]
- Seth MacFarlane’s western movie bombed at the box office and will likely be quickly forgotten, much like Matt Groening’s ill-fated turn as a hardboiled detective in 1993’s Deadly Slumber. [Los Angeles Times]
Holy crap, Lois! According to Deadline, Fox network executive and Seth MacFarlane enabler Kevin Reilly has announced he is resigning as Chairman of Entertainment, “amid a major ratings downside for the network.”
Back in 2010, Reilly stubbornly insisted the network’s strategy “is not all Seth, all the time” at the same time they were planning to give him a fourth goddamn show (presumably the abandoned Flintstones reboot, which mercifully didn’t come to fruition).
With The Cleveland Show cancelled and American Dad heading for TBS, it was looking like Fox might be down to just three Seth MacFarlane-produced shows on their schedule: Family Guy, Dads, and the upcoming Cosmos reboot. Luckily, Fox immediately sprang into action and greenlit his latest cartoon (his fourth for the network), thus maintaining their quota:
Fox has given a 13-episode order to Bordertown, from MacFarlane and Family Guy‘s Mark Hentemann. Set in a fictitious desert town near the U.S.-Mexico border, Bordertown centers on the intertwining daily lives of neighbors Bud Buckwald and Ernesto Gonzales. Bud, a married father of three, is a Border Patrol agent who feels threatened by the cultural changes that have transformed his neighborhood. Living next door is Ernesto, an industrious Mexican immigrant and father of four, who is proud to be making it in America. As Bud and Ernesto’s paths begin to cross, their families become bound by friendship, romance and conflict.
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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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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)]
Seth MacFarlane, beloved by millions around the globe as the voice of Stewie The Talking Baby Who Says Naughty Things and Brian The Talking Dog Who Says Naughty Things, is ready to branch out and tackle the next big challenge of his artistic career: directing, writing, producing and starring in a live-action movie about a Talking Teddy Bear Who Says Naughty Things.
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Fox hired a guy from Adult Swim to find out how to better compete with Adult Swim and his solution was for Fox to make their own Adult Swim. Brilliant! The two hour programming block will air on Saturdays at 11pm starting next year.
Basically, they’re grabbing up all the “edgy” cartoons they don’t have room for on Sunday nights (which I will henceforth refer to as “Animation Domination Prime”) and dumping them on Saturday nights, formerly the home of MADtv, Wanda Sykes’s late-night talk show, and the remaining episodes of Sit Down, Shut Up they were contractually obligated to air. Nobody knows what’s on there now. The audience for this thing will primarily consist of Adult Swim viewers who forgot Saturdays are when Adult Swim airs The Animes.
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According to Reuters, Fox is finally weaning off their bad Simpsons-renewing habit, and have declared they they only want one more season of The Simpsons at most, if the voice actors agree to their “draconian” pay cuts. That would be Season 24, the 2012-2013 season, falling just short of the unthinkable 25 year milestone (unless you go by the Simpsons’ Tracey Ullman Show debut, which marks its 25th anniversary this April). But keep in mind these are anonymous executives, in the middle of some big-time renegotiations where they repeatedly use the press as a conduit to spread rumors and innuendo to get a more favorable deal, from a TV network that once straight up lied said their plan “is not all Seth [MacFarlane], all the time” while giving him three and maybe four shows, which happens to be a subsidiary of one of the most cartoonishly evil corporations in the world, so take that with a pillar of salt.
Also according to these unnamed executives, “the show is no longer profitable for the network.” Forbes asked a bunch of analysts, and found that ending the show would likely more profitable for Fox than continuing it:
The freedom of selling the show into syndication on cable or even to online streaming providers like Netflix or Amazon could generate $1-2 million an episode for a show that has produced nearly 500 of them, RBC estimates.
Those revenues – around $750 million of incremental content monetization – are likely to come across a number of years, because of the original syndication deal and the likely preference for smoother earnings, “but the upside is real.”
RBC estimates broader syndication for The Simpsons post-cancellation could add 10 cents per share to News Corp.’s bottom line.
So now we appear to have reached the point foretold by Troy McClure, who once asked, “Who knows what adventures [the Simpsons]’ll have between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable?” Extra credit goes to former Simpsons writer Greg Daniels, who back in 2008 predicted the show would end when “the per episode syndication price falls below the cost of producing an episode.”