10 things we learned about 'The Simpsons' at Comic-Con
The producers of The Simpsons invaded Bartroom, excuse me, Ballroom 20 this afternoon to chat about the animated Fox comedy’s upcoming 23rd season and answer all sorts of fan questions. (They also showed an amusing parody of the Dexter opening credits starring Ned Flanders, which will appear in the show’s annual “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween episode.) Here are 10 things we learned during the panel — and afterward, when we followed up with executive producer Al Jean.
• Surprise, surprise: There will be at least two more Banksy-eseque gags sprinkled throughout the season. “If you liked Banksy, then you’ll like these two,” Jean told EW after the panel. “But it’s not the same thing,”
• The 500th episode (yes, 500th) will air Feb. 19. Here was Jean’s one hint to EW about the episode: “There’s a secret town meeting that the Simpsons aren’t invited to, and then they sneak in and they find out it’s a meeting discussing whether to ban them from Springfield, because people are so sick of them after all this time. But there are more surprises.”
• The guest cast this season includes such celebrities as Kiefer Sutherland, Jane Lynch, Michael Cera, Andy Garcia, Armie Hammer, Joan Rivers, Jeremy Irons, and Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. And don’t forget… President Theodore Roosevelt? After the panel, Jean elaborated on his tribute to a former Commander-in-Chief: “We have a show where it turns out Superintendent Chalmers’ hero is Theodore Roosevelt, so we have actual audio of Roosevelt (taken from a speech circa 1918) in the show. I thought, ‘Finally! We can put a president in the show. And a good one too. We’re going to give him a little credit at the end.”
• On series creator Matt Groening’s wish list: Radio personality Phil Hendrie. On Jean’s? Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.
• When a fan asked why there were no musical numbers in The Simpsons Movie, Jean said that they wound up on the cutting room floor, including a big song about Alaska, with music by The Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart. “They got pretty far along in the animation, and then we got scared that the movie began to drag in that section,” explained Jean, noting that the song will be included on the next DVD release of the movie.
• Last season, couple-in-the-making Ned Flanders and Mrs. Krabappel – a.k.a. Nedna – hit a roadblock when he found out about all the men she’d been with. The show — which has placed the fate of the pair in the hands of fans, who can vote here — will honor their choice and stick with the storyline. No tricks. (For the record, the producers seemed to be more in favor of the love connection than the audience did.) Groening explained his pro-Nedna stance this way: “Bart deserves his teacher living next door.”
• While Lisa will explore romantic possibilities with Michael Cera’s character, she may ultimately find true love with a certain four-eyed nerd. “If she winds up with anybody, it’s going to be Milhouse,” Jean said, sending the room into cheers. After the session, he elaborated: “We did an episode where she kissed him — she admitted he was cute in the moonlight and then he fell off a cliff and an eagle saved him and he said, ‘Everything’s coming up Milhouse!’ People were so happy and it reminded me of when the little red-haired girl liked Charlie Brown. I thought, ‘I don’t know how the show will end or when, but in my heart, I think they’re going to be together.’”
• The show will bend its format with an episode that follows the saga of Moe’s bar rag over hundreds of years. “It used be a tapestry and then it was used by Michaelangelo,” Jean teased, “and the voice of the bar rag is Jeremy Irons.”
• The Simpsons won’t shoot 1,000 years into the future to do a cross-over with Futurama, but it will jump ahead to a Simpsons Christmas 30 years in the future — and the episode was written by former Futurama writer J. Stewart Burns. In other intriguing news, the family will journey to their seventh and final continent, Antarctica, and in one episode, Mr. Burns has an iPad app called “Angry Burns.”
• In answering a SAO fan’s question, Groening said that it was always his intention to not have the characters on the show age, thanks to the wonders of animation. But, as he quipped, “we may do it when we run out of ideas. That may be the last sad season of The Simpsons. Bart will turn 11.”