Archive for the ‘"Simpsons"’ Category

From Al Bundy to “American Idol”: FOX Turns 25!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

For years it was just the big three: CBS, NBC, and ABC. Dumont was a fledgling 4th during the early years of television, but collapsed in the 1950s. Then on April 5, 1987 the Fox Network launched into prime-time and stuck.

FOX had trickled into the airwaves six months earlier with only 95 stations, striving to project a distinctive, younger image than the established broadcast networks. FOX’s first offering on October 9, 1986 was in late night: The Late Show starring Joan Rivers. Rivers had been the permanent guest host for NBC’s Tonight Show with Johnny Carson since 1983 and burned some bridges when she moved to FOX:

When FOX lept into prime-time in April of 1987, it did so with only one day of programming – Sunday. The first shows included four comedies: Married … With Children, The Tracey Ullman Show, Mr. President, and Duet; and one drama, 21 Jump Street.

From The Tracey Ullman Show soon came The Simpsons, not only the longest-running American sitcom in television history, but also the longest-running prime-time, scripted series. Executive Producer James L. Brooks on the birth of The Simpsons:

Co-creator Stephen J. Cannell on the genesis of 21 Jump Street:

FOX soon succeeded in their goal to be the “young” network, with several other hits coming down the pipeline: Arsenio Hall got his own talk show later in 1987, and FOX scored a huge hit in 1990 with the teen drama Beverly Hills 90210 from super-producer Aaron Spelling:

Tonight FOX takes a look back at some of its hits, beginning with a re-airing of the pilot of Married … with Children at 7pm, followed by an encore of the 500th episode of The Simpsons. Then Fox celebrates its 25 years on air with stars that made the network famous, including: a reunion with the cast of That 70’s Show; Keenan Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans of In Living Color; Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Seacrest and Steven Tyler from American Idol; Kiefer Sutherland from 24 and Touch; Seth MacFarlane from Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad; Christina Applegate, David Faustino, Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal from Married…With Children; Calista Flockhart from Ally McBeal; Gabrielle Carteris, Shannen Doherty, Jason Priestley and Ian Ziering from Beverly Hills, 90210; Patrick Warburton from The Tick, and Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny and creator Chris Carter from The X-Files.

Happy anniversary, FOX!

A Whistleblower in Springfield: “The Simpsons” 500th Episode

Friday, February 17th, 2012

It started as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. It’s now the winner of 27 primetime Emmys, has been licensed in more than 100 countries, been syndicated domestically for 18 years, is the longest-running American sitcom in television history, and beat out Gunsmoke to become the longest-running primetime, scripted series. Oh, and no one on the show has aged in 23 years. Talk about mind-blowing.

Matt Groening’s The Simpsons celebrates a landmark achievement in television this Sunday night. The show will air its 500th episode, “At Long Last Leave,” in which the Simpsons are evicted from Springfield. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will guest star as himself and musician Alison Krauss will provide a special theme song to celebrate the milestone. In a lead up to Sunday’s episode, Groening received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this past Tuesday, and FOX sponsored a marathon screening of the series on February 8th in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for longest continuous television viewing. Simpsons superfans Jeremiah Franco and Carin Shreve indeed reset the record by watching 86 hours and 37 minutes of The Simpsons and earning $10,500 from FOX in the process.

How did The Simpsons skyrocket from short reels to record setters? In his 2003 Archive Interview, Executive Producer James L. Brooks discusses The Simpsons rise from bumpers on The Tracey Ullman Show to the stand-alone, half-hour program that debuted on December 17, 1989:

Bart was quickly the breakout character of the show, and Nancy Cartwright shares how she voices his plethora of memorable catchphrases:

Not to be outdone, Homer has a pretty memorable catchphrase of his own. Dan Castellaneta on the origins of “d’oh!”:

Tune in Sunday at 8pm EST/PST on FOX to see what gems Bart, Homer and the rest of The Simpsons will deliver in their 500th episode. Think leaving Springfield leads to life in hell, or will the Simpsons finally get the love they deserve from their hometown?

- by Adrienne Faillace

Ay Caramba! “The Simpsons” start Season 23 and Bart’s still 10

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Though Bart remains 10 years old, The Simpsons begins its 23rd season Sunday, September 25th on FOX. Not just the longest-running animated program in American television history, The Simpsons is also the longest-running American sitcom, and beat out Gunsmoke to become the longest-running primetime, scripted series.

The brainchild of Matt Groening, The Simpsons originally appeared as a series of animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. Executive Producer James L. Brooks liked the popular shorts, which were then developed into a stand-alone, half-hour program and debuted as such on December 17, 1989. Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), Maggie, Marge (Julie Kavner) and Homer (Dan Castellaneta) hit the big-time that night and have reigned on FOX ever since.

The show at times stirs up controversy for its portrayal of a dysfunctional, but loving family, and not only cemented the phrase “D’oh!” into the minds of millions, but also launched dozens of other catchphrases. From “Don’t have a cow, man!”, “Ay Carumba!”, “Eat my shorts!” and “Cowabunga!” The Simpsons has its own vernacular that continues to penetrate pop culture. Nancy Cartwright’s interview (she voices Bart Simpson, Ralph Wiggum, Nelson Muntz, Todd Flanders, Kearney, and Database) is now available online. As Mr. Burns would say as he craftily twiddles his fingers, “Excellent.”

Cartwright was originally going to audition for the role of Lisa, but when she saw Bart Simpson described as “Ten years old, school-hating underachiever and proud of it”-  she knew that was the role she wanted:

On Bart Simpsons’ memorable catchphrases:

On how she differentiates between similar characters (“Nelson” v. “Kearney” and “Ralph” v “Todd Flanders”):

On how people who criticize the show respond when they find out she plays Bart:

On The Simpsons‘ place in American pop culture:

About this interview:

In her Archive interview, Nancy Cartwright describes how she got her start as a voiceover artist. Active in speech club in high school, she discovered her talent with voices and pursued Communications in college, first at Ohio University, then at UCLA, to be closer to the industry. She recalls training with acclaimed voiceover artist Daws Butler, her first professional job on Richie Rich, and her on-camera work as a guest actor on Cheers and as the lead in the television movie, Marian Rose White. Cartwright then details her work on The Simpsons, originally a series of sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show. She recalls going in to audition for the part of “Lisa Simpson” and walking out with the role of “Bart Simpson.” Cartwright outlines the recording schedule of the show, other characters she voices, expanding the show to a half hour program, her Emmy win for Outstanding Voiceover Actor, and her favorite episodes.  She also comments on other shows to which she’s contributed (Rugrats, Kim Possible) and speaks of her extensive charity work. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on March 17, 2011 in Northridge, CA.

Celebrate Father’s Day with Rob Petrie, Frank Costanza, Homer Simpson, and Mr. C.

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Happy Father’s Day! To celebrate we’ve highlighted interview clips from some of our favorite TV Dads:

Tom Bosley on playing Howard “Mr. C.” Cunningham on Happy Days

Jerry Stiller on playing Seinfeld’s “Frank Costanza”

Dan Castellaneta on the origin of Homer Simpson’s “d’oh”

Dick Van Dyke on The Dick Van Dyke Show’s Rob Petrie

Clip of the Day: The origin of Homer Simpson’s “D’oh!”

Monday, March 28th, 2011

For the full quote, see our interview with Dan Castellaneta here.

“Howdy Doody” Writer Eddie Kean Has Died

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Eddie Kean, the sole writer for the first seven years of the classic children’s show Howdy Doody, has died at age 85.  Kean also wrote the songs for the show.  Out of Howdy Doody comes one of Kean’s most lasting contributions to pop culture — the creation of the word “cowabunga” (also spelled kowabunga) used by everyone from ’60s surfers to Bart Simpson.

Eddie Kean’s Archive interview was conducted on November 3, 2005.  In the excerpt below from his interview he discusses “cowabunga”

Interview description:

Eddie Kean talked about his background growing up in a musical household.  He discussed his early years as a songwriter that led to his meeting Bob Smith and working as a writer on Smith’s radio show.  He described in great detail his subsequent work as the sole writer for Howdy Doody for over seven years, which starred Smith as “Buffalo Bob.”  Kean talked about the launching of the show in 1947 as Puppet Playhouse and how it grew from a weekly to a daily program.  He talked about some of the series memorable characters (and the performers who played them) including: “Clarabell,” “Mr. Bluster,” “Chief Thunderthud,” “Princess Summerfall Winterspring,” “Flubadub,” and “Howdy Doody” himself.  He described the series as a “soap opera” for kids and discussed such memorable storylines as the “Howdy Doody for President” campaigns and the “Mystery of the Four Ls.”  He talked about the music he wrote for the show, including the memorable theme song and such instructional songs as “You Don’t Cross the Road With Your Feet.”  He described how he used to gauge the reaction that the show was getting by reading fan letters and also by anonymously sitting in the screening room in which the children’s parents sat during show time.  He also discussed: the licensing for the show, the talented cast and crew, and the series impact.  He spoke in detail about the legacy of a single word he created for Chief Thunderthud— “Kowabunga”— which has since outlived the show as a catchphrase in various forms (usually spelled “Cowabunga”), notably by Bart Simpson on The Simpsons.  He talked about leaving the show that he felt was running him down (a daily grind of “type-puff-phone-coffee”) and running the cast down as well.  Kean also talked about writing for The Gabby Hayes Show during his years on Howdy Doody, and such series as Going Places subsequently.  He talked about his later pursuits including entertaining as a piano player.  The interview was conducted by Karen Herman.

"The Simpsons" At 20

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009


Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons. The Christmas-themed special “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” was the first show to air (following the Simpsons earlier appearances on The Tracey Ullman Show), after which the series resumed on January 14, 1990, to become the longest-running American primetime entertainment series.

The current Emmy magazine (Issue #6, 2009) features a cover story celebrating The Simpsons‘ 20th. Within Emmy magazine’s pages you’ll find a listing of several of the writers-producer’s favorite episodes over the series long run to-date. What is “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening’s favorite episode? Groening chose “Lisa the Skeptic” from season 9 (airdate: 11/23/97). To see what other episodes were chosen, pick up a copy of Emmy magazine, currently on newsstands.

Go to the Archive’s The Simpsons page to watch James L. Brooks’ interview in which he discusses the development of the show.

2008 Emmy Nominations Announced!

Thursday, July 17th, 2008


The 60th Annual Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy nominations were announced early this morning from The Academy in North Hollywood. We’re very happy to report that quite a few Archive Interviewees were among those honored!

Congratulations to James L. Brooks (“The Simpsons”) Ken Burns (“The War”), Roy Christopher (“80th Annual Academy Awards“), Diahann Carroll (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Tim Conway (“30 Rock”), Sally Field (“Brothers and Sisters”), John Moffitt (“Bill Maher: The Decider“), Phylicia Rashad (“Raisin in the Sun“), William Shatner (“Boston Legal“) and to the late George Carlin (“It’s Bad for Ya!“) and to all the other nominees!

To see the full list, go to the emmy website.

To see the complete list of archive interviews, click here.

George Carlin — Roy Christopher — Tim Conway

"The Simpsons" Hits the Big Screen

Thursday, July 26th, 2007


After years and years of gossip and teasers about a Simpsons feature film, the time has come! This weekend marks the opening of The Simpsons Movie — marking the iconic television series’ transition to the big screen.


In 2003, the Archive of American Television interviewed James L. Brooks, the executive producer of The Simpsons. In the interview parts 9 and 10, he speaks in-depth about the creation of The Simpsons.

Click here to access James L. Brooks 11-part interview.

Interview description:
James L. Brooks was interviewed for five-and-a-half hours (in two sessions) in Bel-Air, CA. Mr. Brooks spoke of his early days as a page at CBS – working his way up to the newsroom. After working in documentaries, Brooks turned to comedy, where he wrote scripts for Hey Landlord, The Andy Griffith Show and My Three Sons before co-creating (with Gene Reynolds) Room 222. In 1970, MTM Productions teamed Brooks with Allen Burns, where they created and produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show. They were also producers on the spin-off series Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou Grant. After leaving MTM, Brooks produced Taxi, The Associates, and The Tracy Ullman Show. Mr. Brooks also talked about the craft of writing and producing for television and his continuing work as executive producer on The Simpsons. The two-part interview was conducted by Karen Herman on January 17 and February 12, 2003.

Also available, is a full interview with Phil Roman, the founder of Film Roman, which currently oversees the animation of The Simpsons.