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The Simpsons Folder

Mmmm, popcorn: A ‘Simpsons’ film in ’07
Updated 4/3/2006

Homer Simpson gives audiences of ‘Ice Age: The Meltdown’ an eyeful in a 20-second trailer to ‘The Simpsons Movie.’
By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — The Simpson’s are finally d’oh-ing the big screen thing.
Here’s the problem with waiting nearly 18 years for a much-anticipated movie: People expect it to be good.

With last week’s announcement that The Simpsons Movie will arrive in theaters July 27, 2007, expectations are running high for TV’s longest-running sitcom to deliver on the big screen. (Related item:Watch and discuss the trailer in Pop Candy)

“If I were feeling any more pressure, I’d be a diamond,” show writer/producer Al Jean says.

Since it premiered in 1989 and grew into a cultural icon, The Simpsons has been fodder for movie speculation.

“We’ve been running a little behind schedule,” Simpsons creator Matt Groening says. “But only by about 15 years or so.”

A 20-second trailer attached to the weekend box-office smash Ice Age: The Meltdown hinted at the movie to come, as did Sunday night’s Simpsons episode.

In 2001, the cast signed new contracts that stipulated they could be in a movie. Since then, “we’d been working to get a script that would be worthy of people actually paying to see the Simpsons,” Groening says.

The screenplay is finished and voice recordings began last month, but creators are saying very little about the plot. Dummy scripts might be circulated to keep Internet spies off the track.

Here’s what they did say:

• The film probably will be rated PG-13 for language a bit coarser than you see on TV, though Groening says creators are considering using the freedom of film to “exploit all the degenerate standards of today’s moviegoing culture.”

• Guest stars will include Albert Brooks, Minnie Driver and the real-life Erin Brockovich (whom Bart Simpson once called “the prostitute with the heart of gold”).

• Nearly all the series regulars are in the movie. “We’ve got a lot of time to fill,” writer/producer James Brooks jokes.

Never fear, this won’t be the end of the TV series, signed to air into 2009.

“We felt the time was right for a movie,” Groening says. “And for Milhouse to win an Oscar.”