Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2020 by Fred Topel
It’s time for our twice annual interview with Al Jean, showrunner on The Simpsons. Jean is such a reliable attendee to Fox’s Television Critics Association that I now think of questions every week while I watch the show and unleash them when we have a chance to talk.
This batch of questions covers The Simpsons’ inclusion on Disney+, the new Disney ownership, Aquaman Jason Momoa’s voice cameo, and recent episodes, like the return of Artie Ziff and “Thanksgiving of Horror.” The Simpsons airs Sunday nights on Fox.
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The Simpsons just began its landmark 31st season on Fox, who has renewed the show through at least season 32. The Simpsons is now working under the Disney banner thanks to the merger with 20th Century Fox, and the back catalog of episodes will appear on the Disney+ streaming service.
The Simpsons family is still mourning the loss of Russi Taylor, who provided the voice of Martin Prince. When /Film ran into showrunner Al Jean at the Summer Television Critics Association party, he said the show intends to continue with Martin Prince as a character. When other voice actors, like Phil Hartman and Marcia Wallace passed away, they retired their characters.
Season 31 of The Simpsons airs Sunday nights on Fox.
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The Simpsons made headlines at the end of last week when the show’s creative team, including co-creator James L. Brooks, decided to pull the third season episode “Stark Raving Dad” featuring guest star Michael Jackson off the air. The decision came after many people on The Simpsons staff saw the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which brings to light many more disturbing details about alleged sexual abuse of young boys by the late international pop superstar.
Now, showrunner Al Jean has explained a little more about their decision to have The Simpsons Michael Jackson episode pulled from circulation, and it comes with an unsettling perspective. Read More »
Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 by Fred Topel
The Simpsons is about to his another landmark. This season will be the animated show’s 30th. Last season saw The Simpsons pass Gunsmoke’s record for the most number of episodes produced. But much of the focus on The Simpsons recently has been on something else.
Last year, a Simpsons controversy heated up. Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem with Apu aired in November 2017, criticizing the stereotypical nature of the Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. The Simpsons responded in their episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” The response sparked more debate than the documentary originally did, and /Film has been covering it closely.
Al Jean, showrunner for The Simpsons, sat down with /Film at the Fox party for the Television Critics Association, and he was prepared for more Apu questions. He wouldn’t budge from those earlier statements and opted to talk about the show’s milestones and some history revealed in Mike Reiss’s recent memoir Springfield Confidential. Read More »
Let’s face it: The Simpsons will never end. The animated series is about to enter its 30th season (holy shit), and it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. But should the show ever actually end, showrunner Al Jean has a pretty good idea for a series finale. But it’s probably a moot point because, again, The Simpsons will outlast us all.
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Posted on Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 by Fred Topel
Somehow, in 29 years of The Simpsons, I still have not run out of things to ask showrunner Al Jean. And this year, there have been some pretty monumental changes to address. Longtime composer Alf Clausen ended his run with season 28. The Disney acquisition of 20th Century Fox makesThe Simpsons now a Disney-produced show, even as their network, Fox, remains separate.
I caught up with Jean at the Fox party for the Television Critics Association. In addition to the big news, we also went over some specific risque lines and cameos from fan favorites Leon Kompowski and the Pin Pals. The Simpsons airs Sunday nights on Fox.
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Posted on Friday, September 29th, 2017 by Fred Topel
Every summer at the Fox party for the Television Critics Association, I catch up with Al Jean. The showrunner of The Simpsons is always dutifully there, as the show is renewed through season 30 and Fox execs have given every impression of wanting to keep it going. I still have new questions for Jean every year because I’ve watched The Simpsons since they spun off the Tracey Ullman Show shorts in 1989 and every year adds new developments in Springfield.
This interview for season 29 happened before the show let composer Alf Clauson go, oherwise I definitely would have asked about it. That’ll be in next year’s interview, but this interview covers another Simpsons milestone (they will have produced more episodes of television than Gunsmoke), the new Halloween episode and season 18 DVDs. The Simpsons returns Sunday, October 1 on Fox.
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Posted on Sunday, September 25th, 2016 by Fred Topel
The Simpsons is entering its 28th year, yet I still have new questions every time I see showrunner Al Jean at the Fox Television Critics Association party. Jean has been the show runner for 26 of the 28 years. He took two years to do the short-lived animated series The Critic, and may be the only other person besides myself who has watched every single episode of The Simpsons.
This year, Fox made some announcements during their TCA executive session. Amy Schumer is doing a voice role on all of their Sunday night animated shows, and The Simpsons will do their first ever one-hour episode. Read our interview with Al Jean below. Read More »
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Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 by Jack Giroux
The Simpsons just keeps going and going. Created in 1989, the animated Fox show has gone on to have a total of 27 seasons and counting. About half those seasons are either very good or simply great, but the program has lost some fans over the years, while also gaining newer and younger fans. A lot of people still tune into The Simpsons, and those viewers will soon have the opportunity to ask a live-action Homer Simpsons a few questions.
Learn how after the jump.
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Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2015 by Fred Topel
Al Jean may be the only other person alive who’s seen as many Simpsons episodes as I have. As showrunner for most of the series’ 27 plus year run, he only missed two years while he ran the short lived series The Critic, but still kept up with The Simpsons. I have literally never missed an episode which seems daunting now, but as it was running I just thought, “Well, there’s a new Simpsons this week. I’ll tape it so I can still see it if I’m not home.” That was 26 years ago. When I once told Jean I’d never missed one, he said, “Me too.”
So I’ve met Jean a few times. At the twice yearly Television Critics Association press tours, he’s usually the one representing The Simpsons, and I always have more questions for him. Season 27 premieres Sunday, September 27 on Fox, and this year almost brought massive changes. Harry Shearer had decided no to renew his contract but ultimately changed his mind. The season premiere promises Homer and Marge break up, but spoiler alert, Jean told us how that was going to turn out, as well as discussing HD cropping of earlier episodes, the FXX marathon and specific characters like Comic Book Guy.
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