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Tue Oct 5, Entertainment – PageSix Gossip/Celeb By DON KAPLAN

‘Simpsons’ movie to decide fate of series

The upcoming “Simpsons” movie will either “kill the show or completely reinvigorate it,” the long-running animated series creator says.

While still in the earliest stages of production, a “Simpsons” movie is definitely on the way, creator Matt Groening said in an interview with London’s Guardian newspaper.

“Everyone on the show this year seems really re-energized, and we’re starting to throw out ideas for the movie and I think that will either kill the show or completely re-invigorate it,” Groening says.

“We’re trying to tell a story that we wouldn’t do on television and take advantage of a longer process and a more ambitious process for animation,” he says.

Meanwhile, the paper says that “The Simpsons” may finally come to an end in 2009 — after it reaches its 20th season, according to buzz at the offices where it is produced.

“It’s not a machine,” says Groening of how difficult the show is to produce, even after all these years. “It’s a bunch of humans working really hard. It doesn’t get any easier because we’re still faced with the problem of having a history. We’re trying not to repeat ourselves and we’re also competing with people’s memories of their favorite episode.”

If “The Simpsons” does wrap up in 2009, it will top “Gunsmoke” as the longest running entertainment show on television — a record that’s also being challenged by the “Law & Order.”

With “The Simpsons” entering its 16th season, many fans have worried about the creative direction of the show. Some feel that over the years, Homer and company have lost their zing.

Groening says he was also concerned, but thinks the show is back on track.

“A few years ago I though, well, we’ve got to run out of steam soon and that we’d be done by now,” he says. “We’re not, in fact we’re going full steam ahead.”

Yeardly Smith, who plays the voice of Lisa Simpson, says that if the show is going to end soon, she hopes it happens while “The Simpsons” is still a ratings topper.

“I would hope that the writers would pull the plug while we’re still on top of our game so we can go out with a bang instead of a piffle in terms of quality and stuff,” she says.

“The Simpsons” air on Fox, a division of News Corp., which also owns The Post.