The Simpsons Folder

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The Simpsons Folder

by George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer
July 29, 2007

A large contingent of Simpsons creators showed up at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday to celebrate the release of “The Simpsons Movie,” including Bill Morrison (head of Bongo Comics), Matt Groening (creator of “The Simpsons”), Al Jean, David Mirkin, Matt Selnick, Matt Selman, Michael Price, David Silverman, Matt Warburton, Don Payne, and Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa).
Groening said the fans’ love is readily apparent to all the creators, and this is also why they do commentary for each and every show. Jean said they recorded commentary for the movie recently. However, as the film had just been released, they weren’t sure whether to take credit or flee from all association to it.

During the Q&A session, a fan said his friend works in movie exhibition and said that preliminary reports are saying “The Simpsons Movie” made over $29 million on Friday alone.

Jean said 166 drafts of the movie were written before they got a draft they liked.

Then the group talked a bit about the upcoming television season: The premiere episode arrives on September 23rd and contains a couple of references to the film.

Selman said that this season there is an episode where a new comic book store opens in Springfield.

“There are more comic book references in this episode than any other episode in the history of TV,” said Selman. Guest voices include Art Spiegelman, Dan Clowes, Alan Moore and Jack Black as the owner of the new store.

Price then talked about an episode this season where Springfield has the first primary in the nation. Springfield is then inundated with news reporters and political pundits, and Homer gets sick of the process, so he writes in Ralph Wiggum for president. Ralph then, somehow, becomes the front runner as a result. They joked that his poster shows him with his finger up his nose and reads, “pick a winner.”

Sideshow Bob (played by Kelsey Grammer) returns in November along with David Hyde Pierce (Niles from “Frasier”), who will play his brother. John Mahoney (Frasier’s television father) is in the episode as well, playing their dad.

The writers were also very excited about this year’s Valentine’s Day episode, a parody of “Sid and Nancy” with Lisa and Nelson.

When asked about the new shapes of television (literally), they said there aren’t any plans for widescreen “Simpsons” episodes, but Groening said they have 16 new episodes of “Futurama” in widescreen this year.

Another fan — who had seen the movie — asked about one of the film’s stars: the pig. Apparently, this character is not seen after the first half of the movie, which prompted the questioner to ask, “Where did it go?”

Jean said the pig does show up in the television premiere episode this year. He said it was going to appear at the end of the movie as well, but got cut.

Someone else asked the panel if the Simpsons has ever upset or angered anyone, Jean mentioned a headline he saw that cracked him up: “‘Simpsons Movie’ Angers Pagans.” It seems that the evolution drawing they had made (for the film’s promotion) that included Homer as the last step of evolution made a few pagans angry … and gave the staff a chuckle.

Fox was also sued by Brazil once over an episode in the Simpsons where characters went to Brazil and were attacked by monkeys. Apparently, that doesn’t happen …

Matt Groening was also asked about his college –- Evergreen in Olympia, Washington. A fan apparently attended the school and wanted to know how much of an influence it had on Groening. The creator said he loved his college experience, and mentioned that the Simpsons actually live on Evergreen Street.

They also talked about the upcoming Simpsons Ride, which is replacing the Back To The Future Ride at Universal Studios. They said the ride “makes fun of other rides.” Smith said she and the other voice actors participated in the creation of the ride, and let it slip that Sideshow Bob plays a part.

And on the topic of other media, they also mentioned the upcoming video game. Like the ride, it “makes fun of other video games.” It includes such parodies as “Grand Theft Scratchy” and makes fun of “Medal of Honor.” The game has 16 levels.

The crew assembled was also kind enough to show the crowd the opening of this year’s Halloween episode. It showed Marge introducing the Halloween Special to the audience when Fox promos popped up all over the screen. She purees the “Family Guy”, sticks Kiefer Sutherland’s “24” character to the fridge, and places the main character from “House” in the microwave.

Someone also asked Groening about his “Life is Hell” comic. He said he still draws it every week for weekly papers and is extremely proud of it. However, Groening still carries a bit of a grudge against the San Diego Reader, which “fired” the strip because the publisher didn’t like Jeff and Ackbar (two gay characters in the strip).