D'OH REPORT

doh

Fox announced they were picking up a “DOUBLE D’OHse” of The Simpsons earlier this week, but it turns out they may have forgotten to make sure all the contracts were signed before hitting “send” on that press release.

TMZ is reporting that “one of the key players” is holding out for unspecified reasons. Going by the history of previous contract negotiations, the mystery holdout is almost definitely Harry Shearer, trying to get himself a cut of some of those sweet, sweet back-end profits. If true, this would make his grumpy tweets about how almost none of the news coverage mentioned him pretty ironic, I guess.

In the unlikely event the show’s producers can’t come to an agreement with him, they have a backup plan:

A designer said that Al Jean (longtime executive and consulting producer) is optimistic that new contracts with vocal talent will be finalized, but Matt Groening was reported to have said:

“If necessary, I’LL do the voices.”

KANCELLATION KOUNTDOWN

my two centsI’m going to go out on a limb and declare that The Simpsons will finally, mercifully end in 2011, after twenty-two seasons.

  • The show has yet to be renewed beyond the 2010-2011 season (season 22), so there’s no guarantee there’ll be a Season 23.
  • In November, the Animation Guild blog mentioned that the writers were working on “another thirteen episodes”. Each production season, the last couple of episodes become the first episodes of the next season; these are called “holdovers.” The current season (season 21) has eight holdovers – notice the production codes in this chart. Presumably, this means next season will also have eight holdovers, which when coupled with the aforementioned thirteen episodes will fulfill a complete season order of twenty-one episodes, with no holdovers for a 23rd season.
  • The show has been losing a million viewers each season for the past couple seasons with no end in sight. It often gets lower ratings than Family Guy. Each episode costs somewhere around $3 million. All of these must be major concerns for Fox executives… but then again The Simpsons is the sixth-highest earner on television, and makes like a billion dollars from merchandise and syndication, so ratings are probably irrelevant.
  • The 20th anniversary hoopla feels like a final victory parade to me, a last hurrah before they ride into the sunset. It’s probably wise to end it while goodwill is high.
  • I just want to be right so I can look prophetic.
VOICE BOX

The voice actors and powers-that-be are in contract talks for like the 30th time over the past 10 years probably because they don’t think they’re getting enough royalties from bart simpson meat thermometers or something who knows

Since I didn’t have to be sitting in negotiation this afternoon, I drove over to the Starz Media/Film Roman facility, where I discovered (via the employees) that Fox and the six voice actors on The Simpsons are deep in talks for a renewal of contracts. And that all parties, according to the artists, have imposed a news blackout.

Ten years ago, Fox was on the brink of replacing all the actors. If contracts aren’t renewed this time, maybe they’ll just get Seth McFarlane to do all the voices. [TAG Blog]