The Simpsons Folder: How to Get a Job as Writer on the Simpsons
From April 2005.
Chat Ed : Welcome to this evening’s webchat with The Simpsons head-writer and executive producer, Al Jean. Emmy Award-winning producer/writer, Al Jean, has worked on THE SIMPSONS since it became a series in 1989, and has a credit on over 200 episodes. In addition to three Emmy Awards, he has won the coveted Peabody Award. Currently he serves as Executive Producer and head writer.
Al Jean : Hello to all you UK fans – you’re some of the most devoted followers we have in the world – the level of interest from you guys is really impressive.
Ed : With all the famous celebrity’s you have worked with on The Simpsons, which was your favourite?
Harri : homer homer homer homer.
Al Jean : You know, there are honestly too many favourites. I was saying the other day how much I enjoyed working with Elton John though. He was someone I have admired growing up and he couldn’t have been nicer. I think directing Tony Blair was the highlight of my career and I hope it doesn’t affect his re-election campaign! I also got to meet George Harrison before he passed away which was amazing. It’s truly one thrill after another.
cj20 : what is your fave British comedy?
Jesse : Do you like Monty Python?
Al Jean : I love Monty Python and I love Ricky Gervais – we hope to have him read his script on May 19th and record on May 23rd.
sampson : al jean you guys rock!
Disfunkxion : If Homer lived in ‘the real world’ what do you think his job would be, and how long would you expect him to live?
Al Jean laughs
Al Jean : If he was alive he would have died around episode six. There’s no way he could have lasted! Honestly, he’s not as smart as a tree! So, I just don’t know!
mikey : Is it simply coincidence that bart is an anagram of brat?
Al Jean : No it’s not a coincidence – that was intentional on Matt Groening’s part.
Maisy : Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
johndude : Who?s your fav character?
Dayna : who is your favourite simpsons character?
Al Jean : My favourite character to write for is Lisa. When I was growing up I was quite nerdy like her and less like Bart.
Domino : how long have you been writing the simpsons?
Hendy : What is your favourite Simpsons episode?
Al Jean : Since 1989. I was one of the first writers hired to turn them from short episodes on the Tracey Ullman Show to regular TV show episodes. Before that I worked on ALF and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
sTe : Is there such a thing as ‘bad pie’?
Al Jean laughs!
Al Jean : Yes, pi – that’s the mathematical term for the ratio of the circumference of the circle to its diameter.
tran : What was Sledge Hammers gun named!? How much fun was it to be involved with that anarchic show?
Al Jean : It was fun and the gun was just named Gun. And he talked to it and the show was a satire of Dirty Harry and Clint Eastwood movies.
poozle : PI is exactly 3
Malph : ‘3’ is a bad pie
Al Jean : David Rasche really was a terrific comedy actor.
sampson : Al what is your favourite episode? It?s an average question but I would like to know
JOker : What was your favourite episode?
Hendy : What is your favourite Simpsons episode?
Al Jean : There are so many I like. I have a spot for an episode I wrote satirising Mary Poppins where the Simpsons get a nanny and they basically drive her crazy.
todamariko : whats the deal? when is George Bush going to make a cameo?
Al Jean : Hahaha! Do you think he needs more publicity?!
jamie : could homer become president
Al Jean : He wouldn’t be the worst president we’ve had.
Ben B : What influenced yellow people?
Callum : Why were the Simpsons chosen to be yellow?
Ron : Homer would make a better President than Bush
Squirrel Dodger : George Bush proved anyone can become president, so why not Homer?
Al Jean : Nobody can remember who made that decision. The general idea was that they would stand out from the background?you know, if they were up against buildings or water then their colour would be really different to the colour behind them.
Steiner : Has any famous guest on the Simpsons ever been unhappy with the way they were portrayed?
Al Jean : Not to my knowledge. The feedback we generally get is usually positive for example, Stephen Hawking is appearing again in an episode that will air here in the US next month.
Ashley S : What would you do if you were homer for a day?
Oscar Harding : Are You Like Homer?
Al Jean : Well, there was an episode where Homer ate a submarine sandwich that was about six feet long that he got from a party and he ate it for several days even when it started to go bad. That was based on something I did about ten years ago.
mikey : what breast size is homer??
Al Jean laughs!
Al Jean : 58DDD!
Country Music : Whatever happened to Lurlene?
Al Jean : She turned up in a subsequent episode where she smoked and I think we heard her voice. It’s been a while since we’ve seen her but I think she’ll turn up again, sometime soon maybe.
Scott Brummitt : She sang such sweet songs
Al Jean : She sure did.
JOker : Is there going to be any films of the simpsons in the cinema ?
Al Jean : We are definitely working on a script. We would hope to go into production later this year, which would mean possibly within the next two years that the film will come out. It’s all tentative but it’s definitely in the works.
Domino : Why do you hate the fox network so much
Al Jean : I don’t hate them at all, without them we wouldn’t exist. They’re like the older brother that you just have to make fun of.
Craigie : TV, Marge, Beer, or Donuts, if you had to have one removed from your life, which would it be?
Al Jean : I think he’d kill himself!
Al Jean laughs
johndude : Are you planning to kill of any more characters?
Al Jean : No.
Hendy : How long are you planning to continue making The Simpsons for?
Al Jean : I would like to milk this cash cow until it goes down!
poozle : Is evil homer going to be in any more episodes?
Chat Ed : I love evil Homer…
Scott Brummitt : *sings* I am evil homer!
Al Jean : We do have a fight coming up in an episode between serious Homer and fun Homer and we see the death of intellectual Homer.
Harri : have you ever thought about making a doughnut-flavoured duff?
poozle : Or duff flavoured donut
Al Jean : I haven’t, but we’ve merchandised pretty much everything else so it wouldn’t surprise me!
mattfox : or a pork chop flavoured duff?
Al Jean laughs
Al Jean : They all sound good to me.
Malph : Is Homer coming to the UK again? he can eat deep fried Mars bars, and go binge drinking, and crash Prince Harry’s next party. He’d love it!
Al Jean : I don’t think the UK wants him back after what happened last time! Next year the Simpsons do go to Italy though where they discover the mayor of the town they are staying in is Sideshow Bob.
simpson : which character do you hate
Al Jean : simpson, I’m amazed every time we read the scripts just how many funny and amazing characters we have on the show. I love them all – believe me it’s like having a second family.
if we : is the sideshow bob rake scene the funniest thing ever or what?
Al Jean : Well I can actually say I was the person who edited that scene and the reason it was so long is because the show was too short. Desperation was the father of genius in that case!
Stacey_rockinout : haha i luv that scene
Kuvo Sheffield : who do you think would win in a battle of whit, homer or peter griffin
Al Jean : LOL
Al Jean : I have to say Homer. No further comment
squig_squig : the show has become more surreal and wacky over the years as a writer is this a reflection of your own life?
Al Jean : Hehe well I think it’s basically because we’re trying to do different things and we don’t want to repeat ourselves. We’ve always done visual humour and tried to have a show focussed on the problems of a real family.
zen-x : Maggie vs. Stewie?
Al Jean : Heh! I don’t know they’re just babies!
adz : Which was your favourite season?
Al Jean : I think Dan Castellaneta gave the best answer to that and he said his favourite season is… Spring.
stevec : have you ever met the guy homer was based on
Al Jean : Well, I believe Matt’s father was named Homer – I don’t know how much of the character was based on him. As I understand it Matt’s father was a very intelligent man, so I don’t know. But no I’ve never met him.
Smile!!! : what is it like working with matt gro—-thingy
Al Jean : It’s the greatest job anyone could ever have. The only daunting part is coming up with new episodes that have fresh ideas that will please such devoted fans.
cj20 : do fox ever interfere in the show?
Jesse : Has any of the episodes ever had any problems being aired? for instance, for swearing?
Al Jean : No, only in terms of the budget, which is their right. Jesse, yeah every network has broadcast standards and they are always changing so we have to stick to those, but Fox allow us to still make a satirical and intelligent show.
Jesse : What’s your opinion on France?
Al Jean laughs
Al Jean : Great food!
antoine : Have you been to Brazil?
Al Jean : No. And I’m not sure I’ll go now, but several of the writers have and said they really enjoyed Rio.
kb : how tall is homer?
Al Jean : He’s about 5′ 11. Marge is 6’9 with her hair.
chel4homer : do you really think all Brits have bad teeth? Mine are perfect, if i do say so myself, and i haven?t had any work done
Al Jean : Not at all. I think the British have lovely smiles. Just look at Diana – who had a better smile than her?
Craigie : Is the homoerotic tension between Homer and Apu deliberate?
Al Jean : Haha I first thought Burns and Smithers when I saw that! Homer and Apu – that’s a new one on me.
zeze : lenny+carl as well
Al Jean : I think Homer has more romantic intentions for the food at the Kwik-E-Mart than Apu.
Ben B : How does it feel to be voted number 1 cartoon on channel 4
Ben s : what is it like working with one of the most watched cartoon?
Carl Curtis : what is it like working almost all the time with such big stars
Al Jean : I couldn’t have been more honoured and they included things like Bugs Bunny and things too so it was great! It doesn’t compare to Homer being voted Most Admired Man in Britain, ahead of Martin Luther King! That was hilarious.
Scott Brummitt : Have you ever disappointed by the end product of an episode, and been surprised to see it a huge success?
Al Jean : Every episode that we see.. there’s always something I see where I say oh I could have done that better or changed that you know… but sure if you’re any kind of a creative person you’re always going to try and make something better.
Nameless : Can you tell us about any other unannounced plots?
benjmin : what can we expect in the future of the simpsons
Al Jean : We have a show coming up where Homer befriends Ray Romano and it becomes a satire of A Beautiful Mind. Also Homer becomes convinced the second coming is near and tries to persuade everyone to sell their belongings. We also send Homer to a weight loss camp because he has a heart attack. And Homer finds out that Grampa may not be his real father and the man he thinks is his real father is voiced by Michael York.
platinum : Whats your best homer moment
Sweet babes : i though the episode where Homer went into the real world was great
Al Jean : Oh that was great.
johndude : max power!
Al Jean : Probably for me though it would be when he fell down that cliff for the first time. I think that is one of the funniest things ever.
Callum : Haha, cant wait for the heart attack.
Ben B : Where is Springfield?
Al Jean : In the US.
zeze : whos the best writer
Al Jean : I’m just amazed how many talented people there are. James L. Brooks is a real honour to work for – I had so much admiration for him growing up.
Gemma : will you ever bring back alf coz it was the best programme on tv
Al Jean : It’s not up to me to bring it back, but he does do a talk show in the US, but the series, I don’t think they will bring that back no.
Ben B : Tell us about your show, ‘The Critic’
Al Jean : Oh that was another animated show, which featured satires of current movies. It’s out on DVD and was a really wonderful experience. In season 6 of The Simpsons DVD it actually includes our crossover episode where The Critic appears in The Simpsons. We’ve actually just been talking about the commentary for that show.
Bart : if you would describe yourself as a simpsons character which would it be?
Al Jean : Either Lisa or Comic Book Guy.
Sarah : Do you love pies in real life???
Al Jean : Not as much as Homer, but I don’t think anyone loves pies as much as Homer.
Coppo : If you had the chance, would you sell your most prized possession to live in a land made of chocolate?
Al Jean laughs
Scott Brummitt : Homer in the land of chocolate was brilliant – best Simpsons ever!
Al Jean : I think the funniest thing in that episode is when Homer is in the land of chocolate and then he sees the sign saying ?Chocolate half price!? and that excites him the most even though every single thing around him is made of chocolate. So funny.
Hendy : Why does Maggie hate the baby with the one eyebrow so much?
Al Jean : Why do the English not get along with the French? Some things can’t be explained!
M0n1y : how come grand pa looks like homer and bart does not???
Al Jean : I think they were just based on different models. Bart is based on another picture of a ten-year-old boy from the 50s.
Chat Ed : OK everyone, our time with Al is now up, say your goodbyes and let?s thank him for coming in to chat to us.
Ben B : Thanks Al
pugster : Night al
pebbles : byeeeeeeee Al
if we : Thanks al!
Jesse : Thanks Al. Nice chatting to you
Trent Reznor : night
Joman : cheers
madhair60 : Bye Al.
Callum : Nice chatting
madhair60 : Cool chat
Hendy : Thank you very much!
jayson-firestorm : thank you kindly
chris macaulay : bye al
kb : cool man
benjmin : thanx
Al Jean : It’s been a pleasure to see how interested you all are and it was great talking to The Simpsons fans here tonight. I think the next season is as good as any we have ever done. Thank you and goodnight.
Al Jean leaves the room