An unknown writer named Judd… Apatow or something will get his big break on Sunday night when The Simpsons turns a spec script that he penned many years ago into a full-blown episode.
What’s that? You and pretty much everyone in America has heard of him? Even better. The writer-director-producer whose resume boasts such credits as Freaks and Geeks, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and This is 40 will fulfill a careerlong dream with the airing of “Bart’s New Friend,” (Jan. 11, 8 p.m., Fox). In the episode, Homer is hypnotized and believes he is only 10 years old, leading him to become best friends with Bart and deciding that he never wants to come out of his spell and return to adulthood.
Apatow written a script for the show in 1990 so he’d have a writing sample while seeking jobs in Hollywood. While it didn’t land him a gig at The Simpsons, he was eventually hired by current Simpsons showrunner Al Jean to work on his 1994-95 animated comedy The Critic. In 2013, Jean read an interview in which Apatow discussed his Simpsons spec script and decided to turn Apatow’s old dream into an animated reality. Of course, the script needed a rewrite (which the show’s writers spearheaded while soliciting input from Apatow) as Apatow had penned it in the season 1 style/universe of the Simpsons. “It’s an incredibly sweet episode and the fact that it was something thought of very early on harkens back to the early days of the show,” Jean tells EW.
Apatow offered a few disclaimers while talking about the episode last year with EW. “I think the idea of my episode is very good and there are some nice moments, but it was the first thing I ever wrote and I would like to be very clear that at the time I wrote it, I had only had sex with two women,” he quipped. “I am up to four or five by now.”
Last season, Apatow made another contribution to The Simpsons, playing himself in an episode, as seen below.
Get a preview of Apatow’s script work in this exclusive clip from Sunday’s episode (8 p.m., Fox), in which Bart is not pleased to see Homer the Kid invade his playground turf.