Category: The Simpsons

Matt Groening finally reveals Springfield's home state on 'The Simpsons'

The SimpsonsMatt Groening has been keeping a secret for more than 20 years, but he's finally broken his silence: He's revealed which state Springfield, the location of "The Simpsons," is located in.

The answer? Oregon.

Not a total shock, considering Groening grew up in Portland, Ore. But still, the cartoonist has been awfully cagey about the location over the years.

But in a detailed Q&A in the May 2012 issue of Smithsonian magazine, Groening has finally come clean, telling interviewer Claudia De La Roca, "Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show 'Father Knows Best' took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, 'This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.' And they do."

So why did Groening keep it a secret for so long? "I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, 'Yup, that’s right.'"

Well, now the secret is out.

There are Springfields in 22 states, so it's been easy for anyone to see "The Simpsons'" Springfield as their Springfield. And the show has thrown all kinds of contradictory geographic clues at the viewers over the years, with the town being close to a desert, a volcano, a glacier and several national parks.

In "The Simpsons Movie," Simpson family neighbor Ned Flanders tells Bart that the states bordering Springfield's home state are Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky.

Now the only "Simpsons" question remaining: How many more episodes will the show, which recently passed episode 500, go?

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'Simpsons' pays homage to 'Game of Thrones'

'The Simpsons': Q&A with Matt Groening on reaching 500 episodes

'The Simpsons' at 500: Show runner talks angry Homer, Julian Assange

-- Patrick Kevin Day

'Simpsons' pays homage to 'Game of Thrones'

'The Simpsons'

"The Simpsons" revised its opening credits on Sunday in honor of HBO's returning fantasy epic "Game of Thrones."

In the new opening sequence, shown before the episode "Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart," familiar Springfield locations such as Moe's and the Kwik-E-Mart are given the clockwork rising from the ground look and feel of the HBO series' opening sequence.

And other locations get a special Westeros treatment, with Mr. Burns' house renamed Burns Landing and the Simpson family couch given the ominous title The Couch.

It isn't the first time "The Simpsons" has redone its opening sequence. Banksy guest-directed the opening for an episode in 2010 and "Ren and Stimpy" creator John Kricfalusi directed an opening sequence in 2011. A completely live action sequence, originally produced for the British channel Sky1, was incorporated into an episode in 2006.

The opening sequence of HBO's "Game of Thrones" is reminiscent of "The Simpsons" in that it airs with slight variations in every episode. The locations used in that episode are included in the sequence. While the locations of "The Simpsons" stay the same, every episode includes a different phrase on a blackboard and a different couch gag.

The new season of "Game of Thrones," adapting the second book of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, begins on April 1.

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'The Simpsons': Q&A with Matt Groening on reaching 500 episodes

'The Simpsons' at 500: Show runner talks angry Homer, Julian Assange

--Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Homer and Bart in "The Simpsons." Credit: Fox

'The Simpsons': Q&A with Matt Groening on reaching 500 episodes

Matt Groening

"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.

PHOTOS: Remembering 23 seasons

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"].

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'The Simpsons' at 500: Show runner talks angry Homer, Julian Assange

'The Simpsons' 500th episode

This post has been corrected. Please see the note at the bottom for details.

"The Simpsons" will air its landmark 500th episode on Sunday.

To put that into context, that's roughly 200 straight hours of show (minus commercials), stretched over 23 seasons, with hundreds of guest voices from Oscar winners, world leaders, esteemed novelists and notorious international figures. It's become a billion-dollar industry for the Fox network and made millionaires of its creators.

Executive producer Al Jean has been with the show since the beginning. He worked on the first episode to air in 1989 ("Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire") and has been through two stints as show runner: during the third and fourth seasons and again from the 13th season to the present.

PHOTOS: 23 seasons of 'The Simpsons'

To celebrate 'The Simpsons' reaching 500 episodes, Fox held an 86-hour showing to break the world record for longest TV marathon. Is it strange to have people watch your work under stressful conditions? [Viewers competed to see who could last the longest — for a $10,500 prize.]

Yeah. It’s the kind of thing they do to brainwash people. [Laughs] I don’t know if that’s what we were intending when we were writing these little half-hour comedies. I just pray they don’t have a psychotic break when my credit comes up.

Was there a plan from the beginning to feature Bart as the star of the show?

Well, he was the one that really popped with the general public first. I think with the writers it was always slightly easier to pitch Homer ideas because Homer was an adult male and he was somebody they could relate to. But Bart’s a great character. Two of the episodes that center around him and the school are still really popular. There was never a conscious change. We just do episodes that we think are funny and there’s always a point where we think "Hmm, we had too many Homers in a row. Let’s break it up." I like doing Lisa ones too. They're all great characters.

Have you seen the character dynamics change over the years?

My goal is to keep the characters the same. The situations change, but you're seeing the reaction of a basic family to what happens in the modern world. Homer was originally a little angrier and got a little dumber. I’m trying to take him back toward the angry end of the spectrum. With Lisa there's always the danger that she gets to be a know-it-all. You try to back off from that. She's an 8-year-old kid, too.

Has the style of comedy changed at all over the years?

When we were running it in Seasons 3 and 4, we tended to do more cutaway humor. We also did "The Critic," which came out at around the same time. That style has caught on and I think we do less of it just so we stand out a little more. But in terms of the pace of the show, it sped up after Season 2 a little bit, probably just because the first two seasons were coming with no animated precedents. There was never any conscious effort to change things. I think the show is fast-paced now because television just is faster paced. You even watch live-action shows like "30 Rock" and those shows have been influenced by our pacing and style.

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'Simpsons' to Iran: 'This means war!'

Simpsons-iran1

Iran is banning the sale of all "Simpsons" toys within its borders, but the long-running Fox animated series isn't just rolling over.

When asked to comment on the news, longtime "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean had just one thing to say: "This means war!"

The independent Iranian newspaper, Shargh, reported on Monday that a governmental agency, the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, had placed the "Simpsons" merchandise on a toy blacklist alongside Barbie for promoting Western culture.

Other Western pop culture icons such as Superman and Spider-Man were allowed to be sold in the country because they help the "oppressed."

According to the Associated Press, the institute's secretery of policymaking, Mohammad Hossein Farjoo, said that any doll that had distinguishable adult genitals, or any dolls of adults at all, were banned "because these dolls are promoters of Western culture."

Superman and Spider-Man got a pass because "though they are dolls and characters in American films, they help oppressed people and they have a positive stance."

"The Simpsons," which has been on the air since 1989, is rapidly approaching its 500th episode, to be aired on Feb. 19. (For that milestone episode they're featuring the guest voice of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Though awaiting a ruling from Britain's Supreme Court on the legality of an arrest warrent issued by Sweden in a sexual molestation case, Assange has long fashioned himself as a defender of the oppressed.)

In the meantime, the world will have to sit tight while "The Simpsons" formulates its counterattack.

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Simpsons dolls banned in Iran as 'promoters of Western culture'

'Simpsons' marathon set to celebrate the show's 500th episode

— Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Homer Simpson. Credit: Fox.

'Simpsons' marathon set to celebrate the show's 500th episode

Simpsons

Love 'The Simpsons' but hate your good health? Then Fox has cooked up an event catered specifically to you.

In celebration of the 500th episode of "The Simpsons," the network is sponsoring a fan marathon of all 500 episodes of the series, in order, all at once on Feb. 8.

The hope is to crown a new Guinness World Record holder for longest continuous television viewing -- a record set in 2010 by three viewers of another Fox series, "24." Kevin Coon, Victor Lopez and Farris Hodo beat out 100 other participants in the "24" marathon showing by staying awake for 86 hours, 6 minutes and 41 seconds to watch every episode of all six seasons of the Kiefer Sutherland action drama.

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Fox announces fall premiere dates

Terranova Fox has unveiled its fall season premiere dates: get ready to travel back in time, meet a new girl, and/or continue singing with your favorite McKinley High students.

Sandwiched Tuesday nights, starting Sept. 20, between the popular “Glee” and the kooky Chance family on “Raising Hope,” is the debut series “New Girl” starring Zooey Deschanel.

And making the grandest entrance of all the new series is the launch of “The X Factor,” which will air Wednesdays and Thursdays, with a two-night premiere on Sept. 21 and Sept. 22. Joining the animation domination block on Sundays, starting Oct. 30, will be Jonah Hill’s new animated comedy, “Allen Gregory,” about an uppity 7-year-old who is forced to attend elementary school with kids his own age.

The sci-fi epic “Terra Nova” gets a special two-hour debut on Sept. 26. (Read more about Fox's aggressive launch for the series in our sister blog Company Town.) While the family comedy “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” starring Jaime Pressly (“My Name is Earl”) and Katie Finneran (“Wonderfalls”), isn’t being introduced until Nov. 23.

Fans of “House” and “Bones” will also have to be patient, with their returns slated for Oct. 3 and Nov. 3, respectively.

 Full schedule after the jump ...

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'The Simpsons' hits the big 23

"The Simpsons," the longest-running comedy in TV history, has been renewed for a 23rd season.

Fox on Thursday announced the renewal, which will bring the series total to 515 episodes.

"Like many 22-year-olds, 'The Simpsons' is extremely happy remaining at home, on Fox, and hopes it doesn't have to go out into the real world for many years to come," said executive producer Al Jean.

Fans of the animated series will have something else to celebrate this Thanksgiving when Fox airs the world broadcast premiere of "The Simpsons" movie.

— Greg Braxton

 

Spooking, slaying and egging: 10 classic Halloween TV episodes

Halloween’s not just a time for gobbling up bite-size candies by the fistful. It’s also a time for devouring large quantities of Halloween-themed TV episodes: some spooky, some silly, some classics that follow us and invade our thoughts like howls in the night.

Every year brings a new batch of wannabe classics, like “The Office’s” annual Halloween episode, "Modern Family"'s trick or treat escapade and the 21st installment in “The Simpsons' ” creepilicious “Treehouse of Horror” series on Nov. 7, featuring a “Twilight” sendup in which Lisa falls for a vampiric new kid guest-voiced by Daniel Radcliffe. (Harry Potter as a cartoon vampire? There’s just no way that’ll suck.)

But there’s nothing quite like those old favorites, the ones that send you back to your youth -– or to, um, a couple of years ago. Here's a list of 10 Halloween-themed TV episodes that rise up like zombies from beyond and demand to be remembered, and to be watched again and again and again. (Clips are embedded below if available.) They’ll leave you glowing like a jack-o-lantern.

And if you have a favorite that's not included here, chime in and treat your fellow Showtrackers to it in the comments section.

 1) The Simpsons: “Treehouse of Horror” (aka “The Simpsons Halloween Special”): It’s hard to pick just one installment in the annual “Treehouse of Horror” series, but the very first one, featuring a segment in which James Earl Jones reads Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” with an assist from Bart, Lisa, Homer and Marge, is in a class by itself. Will you be able to think of the poem the same way ever again? Nope, never more. (Original air date: Oct. 25, 1990.)

 

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Flight of the Conchords meet 'The Simpsons'

Obsessive fans of Flight of the Conchords — are there any other kind? — have had to settle for repeats of the musical folk duo's HBO show, since singers-songwriters-actors Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement pulled the plug on series TV after two short seasons.

But the Kiwi funnymen popped up on the season premiere of "The Simpsons" on Sunday night doing what they do best: rapping like hyper-literate white boys and living like starving artists in a hipster Springfield borough dubbed Sprooklyn. Nerd nation rejoice!

McKenzie and Clement, with deadpan humor and acoustic guitars at the ready, played counselors as Lisa Simpson lived a summer dream of singing, dancing and acting at a theater camp with fellow geeks or, gleeks, as it were.

Several members of the Fox hit musical, "Glee," also made animated guest appearances on the 22nd-season launch. Cory Monteith, Lea Michele and Amber Riley showed Lisa the ropes at a camp called Expressions by bursting into song, much like they do in their own show. (Why was Riley's cartoon avatar so thin, by the way?)

U.S.-based fans might've caught a glimpse of Grammy winners Flight of the Conchords during live performances or comedy festivals around the country over the past year or so, but their HBO series of the same name lasted just 22 episodes. The musicians announced in late '09 that they wouldn't continue for a third season of the show, which also starred Rhys Darby and Kristen Schaal, in favor of touring, Internet projects and film work.

In an episode dubbed "Elementary School Musical," McKenzie and Clement advise Lisa Simpson to follow her dramatic dreams. (They even got an assist from Stephen Hawking.) She ends up following the guys back to their sad little hovel and their jobs as sandwich artists where they kind of take back everything they said before. Springfield, Bart, Homer and the rest didn't look so bad after that, but Lisa hasn't given up the sax. Check out the clip to see that the guys haven't lost their ironic touch.

 -- T.L. Stanley









COMIC-CON: 'The Simpsons' get 'Glee'-ful for upcoming season

Simpsons_09_V2F The cast of “Glee” has checked in everywhere from the White House to the set of "Oprah," and now the McKinley High crew is headed to the land of Springfield.

“The Simpsons” showrunner Al Jean let the the news slip during a panel for the animated favorite Saturday afternoon.

In a panel that also included creator Matt Groening, executive producer Matt Selman and supervising director Mike Anderson, Jean announced that in an episode in the show's upcoming record-breaking 22nd season this fall, the town of Springfield will be greeted by the animated likenesses of our favorite “Glee” club. There was no word on if they are going to sketch up a yellow-hued version of Sue Sylvester.

Other guest stars slated for the season are Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Cheech and Chong, Hugh Lourie and Wallace and Gromit.

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