Posts Tagged ‘“The Tracey Ullman Show”’

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!

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.