"The Simpsons" aired its 500th episode Sunday, in which America's brightest yellow household was cast out of their home town of Springfield, only for the rest of Springfield to follow them to their new life off the grid (bringing the grid with them).
The broadcast included a cameo from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange — really, it did — and a "couch gag" (the bit at the end of the credits where the family sits down to watch TV) cut together in rapid-fire form from all preceding couch gags.
A week earlier, I sat down with "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening for an interview that ran in Sunday's Sunday Calendar. What follows is more of our conversation than that article could hold.
On Valentine's Day you're getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In my previous life working for the Los Angeles Reader, I used to type up the calendar section, and any time any celebrity would get a star on Hollywood Boulevard I would type up the press release. But as an investigative journalist I would actually drive to the address where the star was going to be, and I would note what store it was in front of and write, say, "Curly Joe DeRita is receiving his star in front of the Pussycat Theater," or whatever it was — Joe's Bong Shop. And I remember getting calls saying, "Please don't. Please don't put what stores are at these addresses."
Years later "The Simpsons" got a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and that was a lot of fun, and last year I got a call from someone in Fox Publicity saying they want to give me a star and I said OK, because of the absurdity of it. I've been haunted since college by the book "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America" by Daniel J. Boorstin." It was written in 1962, and it's analysis of fake media events, and this I would consider a fake event. But Paul McCartney did it, on Thursday. It'll be fun.
It can't be something you imagined when you first came to Hollywood.
I did not. That's why I did it. I tell myself to carefully consider things that are unique opportunities. One of the "Simpsons" writers was giving me a little bit of a hard time about it because "The Simpsons" already has a star. I said that the star was for "Life in Hell" [Groening's angsty comic strip, which led via one thing and another to "The Simpsons"].