I had the privilege of listening in on a conference call with Al Jean yesterday, who has been the head writer on The Simpsons since 1989. Here’s my notes from the call:
On Plopper, the Spider Pig
– spider pig might be coming back! but he was definitely made for the movie. Plopper might show up in show as a cameo.
On science fiction spoofs
– in March, Homer will get poison to kill rats (they look like Ratatouille), leaves Maggie on a convent porch, turns into a Da Vinci and National Treasure spoof. 3D Homer again? Perhaps.
On going into Season 20
Yes, they do keep track of other shows and how long they’ve gone. (Lassie and Gunsmoke) They just recorded episode 445, so they’re past Ozzie and Harriet and Bonanza. Through season 20 would be over 500 episodes in the can. Show has won 24 emmys.
A Simpsons spinoff?
Spinoffs: yes, there has been talk of it, but the decision would be it would be VERY diffulct to split off and still concentrate on the show. They like the big universe of the show as it exists.
On Ned Flanders
Ned Flanders, they love to write for him because he’s so much fun. Updating show where Simpsons gets foreclosed, Ned buys it from them and rents it to them, Homer takes advanatege of him and Ned gets fed up and evicts, but it ends up very sweet.
On another Simpsons movie
– will there be a followup? Perhaps if there was a good script, but first one took four years. Al’s preference would be after the series itself was all done (and there’s no timeline for that).
On other animated shows
Other cartoons have followed the Simpsons – does Family Guy appeal to the lowest common denominator? How does the Simpsons rise above that? From the beginning, Sam Simon said we would write a show for adults, as smart and as connected with human emotion as possible. It’s the golden age for TV animation right now. We’re outrageous, but we’ve tried from the beginning to intelligently depict family challenges.
Are there “phases” of the show?
Golden Age of the Simpsons? are there phases that the show goes into? not really, we’ve won a ton of awards lately, but there are no eras, we just make it as good as possible.
Upcoming guest stars
Mo meets a woman on the Internet and she’s three feet tall in real life; Simpsons go to Ireland, Homer and Grandpa go to bar and buy it, Kenneth Branagh will be the pub owner.
On the Simpsons ride
Simpsons ride in Orlando and Hollywood exceeded expectations; longest wait time for any ride at Universal,lots of writers worked on those rides.
Will the Simpsons kids ever grow up?
Will the kids ever grow up? Episode as kids as teenagers a few years ago, in terms as the basic template for the show, no.