As the Walt Disney Company continues to celebrate its 100th anniversary, let us consult the tea leaves and try to speculate just what the entertainment conglomerate wants to do with The Simpsons.
- CEO Bob Iger recently spoke about the importance of quality over quantity. Sure, he was specifically talking about Marvel’s recent underperformance at the box office, but maybe, just maybe, he was secretly thinking about The Simpsons, which passed the 750 episode mark this year and is only getting more expensive to license.
- There’s a rumor that 20th Century Studios recently greenlit James L. Brooks’s upcoming film Ella McKay in hopes of convincing him to do a sequel to 2007’s The Simpsons Movie. Maybe that’s true, but 20th and Brooks already have a longstanding relationship (his production company Gracie Films is located on the Fox studio lot) and frankly it doesn’t seem like Brooks would need much convincing (the Disney+ shorts were his idea). As I see it, the main obstacles are that everyone is 16 years older and the circumstances that made the first movie possible have changed.
- Remember back in 2019 when Matt Groening announced a Disenchantment comic book series? Well, good news, it’s finally being released, four years later and after the show has ended. The podcast Talking Simpsons speculated the delay might’ve been due to behind-the-scenes squabbling between Groening and Disney over Simpsons publishing rights, complicating Groening’s plans for a comics app.
- Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro claims they have enough space in Anaheim “to build another Disneyland there if we choose to do that.” Might The Simpsons find a home there if the Universal contract is not renewed?
We don’t know anything. I apologize if I deceived you.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons: The Complete First Season DVD boxset in North America (tip of the hat to illustrator Bill Mudron for mentioning this). It was, for a time, the best selling TV show on DVD until it was eclipsed by Chappelle’s Show a few years later. Now that physical media has been rendered a relic by streaming services, let’s take this opportunity to look back at what’s been lost.
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Tonight’s Simpsons episode, The Man Who Came To Be Dinner, features the family getting launched into space and meeting Kang & Kodos in their first major appearance in a non-Halloween, non-clip show context.
The episode has had a long, strange journey: it was first announced back in September 2012 and scheduled to air in May 2013 as the Season 24 finale, but it was mysteriously postponed just two weeks before it was supposed to air. It also did not air in the following season as expected, but is now finally airing in the middle of the current season, nearly 2½ years after it was announced.
Fans had a number of theories about the delay: Animation problems? A lawsuit from Disney? Cold feet about the out-there premise? Saving it for the series finale?
Producers Al Jean and David Mirkin finally revealed the real reason on Twitter: at some point they seriously considered scrapping the episode and reworking it into a sequel to The Simpsons Movie.
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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)]
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain likes to quote movies. And not just any movies, but movies based on cartoon franchises. As reported by our sister blog, AnimeJihad, Cain quoted a song from Pokémon: The Movie 2000 during a debate last August. As any political analyst could tell you, it was a brazen dog whistle for the highly-coveted otaku crowd (a move popularized by Lee Atwater’s so-called “Shounen Strategy”). Which apparently worked, because he soon shot up to frontrunner status.
Well now the Cainster is at it again. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Cain wheeled out his new talking point, telling his supporters “We need a leader, not a reader.”
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Former Simpsons writer/showrunner and notorious “hacktivist” Bill Oakley, who has been in communication with fans via the internet since before most people even had the internet, has been tearin’ up the Twitter lately, uploading a treasure trove of rare Simpsons material that has never before been made public. Among the documents uploaded so far: the first draft of “$pringfield, (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling),” the first draft of the “Skinner and the Superintendent” segment from “22 Short Films About Springfield,” the original story outline for “Two Bad Neighbors,” and a list of random ideas.
Among the more intriguing ideas lost to the sands of time:
- An aborted “$pringfield” subplot involving Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone maintaining a Planet Hollywood in Springfield that got dropped since the three actors never actually agreed to be on the show.
- More scenes of Springfield being hit by an economic recession, which somehow feels more timely and relevant than last year’s “No Loan Again, Naturally” despite being written a decade earlier.
- George and Barbara Bush eating pizza.
- An episode plot where Bart obtains 144 Jeeps for some reason.
- This visual gag:
The town secretary records the vote in a ledger, where we see
previous idiotic town votes, e.g. “Above-Ground H-Bomb Test,”
“Lower Drinking Age to 14,” and “Build Monorail.”
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Celebrated Goosebumps author Stephen King churned out a new book, Under the Dome, which features a town encased in a giant dome (possible metaphor???), which The Internet immediately declared to be a rip-off of The Simpsons Movie, which was of course the first movie to feature a dome. King denied these grave charges of plagiarism, claiming to have come up with the plot when he started the story in the 1970s, which pre-dates The Simpsons by a week or two. He further attempted to prove his innocence by scanning the first 60 pages of his manuscript, typed out in their original IBM typescript, which should erase any lingering doubts because faking old typewriter fonts is impossible.
It should be noted that even if King ripped off The Simpsons Movie, The Simpsons Movie is itself a rip-off of Neon Genesis: Evangelion, so uhhhh double jeopardy?? [The Independent]
Movie and TV studio revenue fell 25 percent to $1.49 billion, and operating profit sank 72 percent to $112 million. Key film releases such as “Marley & Me” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still” drove up marketing costs, while last year’s holiday quarter had a better home-video release slate, including “The Simpsons Movie” and “Live Free or Die Hard,” the company said.
Could Spiderpig be keeping Fox’s parent company afloat??? [AP/Yahoo!]