San Diego Comic-Con may not be happening in person this year, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get to enjoy some fun panel conversations with the creative minds behind some of our favorite entertainment thanks to [email protected].
This morning’s panel for FOX’s The Simpsons (distributed by the Disney-owned 20th Television) started with a clip of Homer Simpson meeting Disney Princess Homer and brought together the voice of Lisa Simpson Yeardley Smith with director Mike Anderson, executive producer Matt Selman, consulting producers David Silverman and Carolyn Omine, and showrunner Al Jean to discuss the long-running animated sitcom. In the bullet-point list below, I’ve noted some of the more interesting tidbits that came out of this conversation.
Watch The Simpsons @ Home | [email protected] 2020:
- Yeardley Smith is wearing Minnie Mouse donut ears.
- The team talked about how they’re been surviving during the lockdown and what they’ve been eating.
- Al Jean says he has become the “Mad Max of paper towels.”
- Production moved to home when the lockdown started and took about a week and a half to set up.
- Al Jean says the writers’ room would be the worst place to be during a pandemic because it’s a small room with no air conditioning and everyone’s talking really loud.
- Carolyn Omine says she misses the energy you get from other people from working in the office environment.
- Matt Selman says the strength of the show is collaboration. He also says he walks all day on his treadmill while working on his iPad.
- David Silverman says part of being an animator is adhering to other people’s styles. The style of The Simpsons has evolved quite a bit since The Tracey Ullman Show shorts. “We just organically figured it out.” The Simpsons’ kitchen is largely based on how Matt Groening drew the kitchen in the Life in Hell comic strip. Each animator brought their own personality and energy to the design of the characters.
- David Silverman worked with Matt Groening to design the original opening title sequence.
- Mike Anderson started out doing background cleanup on the show. The first thing he ever drew for the show was one of the seats in Moe’s Tavern. Now he oversees all of the animators.
- Al Jean still does a fair amount of writing while running the writers’ room. Matt Selman says Al Jean’s work ethic is so impressive.
- Selman says when you tell people you work on The Simpsons they assume you’re very old.
- They showed a clip from the next “Treehouse of Horror” episode, which answers the question “What happened to the Halloween candy?” by showing a time-lapse of Homer eating it at his power plant workstation.
- The first Halloween episode had multiple directors, but ever since then one director does the entire episode and enjoys the challenge of tackling multiple styles.
- David Silverman started playing the tuba in high school and stuck with it. He played a little bit of The Simpsons theme on the tuba during the stream.
- Yeardley Smith doesn’t worry about being typecast because she’s played Lisa Simpson for so long. The writers and animators say typecasting doesn’t exist as much for their jobs.
- Animation is easier than live-action production because it affords you the freedom of adding jokes right up until the last minute, according to Selman.
- Al Jean says this is the Golden Age of television animation.
- Mike Anderson’s favorite Simpsons item is Bart Simpson dental floss, Carolyn Omine has a Bart asthma inhaler, Selman has “Weird Al” Yankovic and Grunge Homer action figures from the show, David Silverman has a Hans Moleman toy, and Al Jean has the “Island of Dr. Hibbert” Treehouse of Horror playset. They all like the Kidrobot toys that have come out in the last ten years.
- A number of fans were brought into the chat to ask questions. The team says they’d love to do an episode where the Simpsons explore Mexican culture.
- Next season’s guest stars include Hannibal Buress, Olivia Coleman, David Harbour, Ben Platt, and others. Their guest star wish list includes Sir Michael Palin of Monty Python (who just recorded an appearance) and Elaine May. Favorite past guest stars include Jon Lovitz, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Sacha Baron Cohen, Don Cheadle, and Jack Black.
- How do they decide whether a guest star or regular cast member will be a new character? Sometimes they write with a specific person in mind, sometimes it happens at the table read.
- The “Treehouse of Horror” concept was inspired by 1950s EC Comics. Matt Groening had the idea to turn that into an animated tradition with The Simpsons. Marge’s warning was added to an early episode because Maggie held a knife and now they kill “twenty people a minute.”
- They might reference or do mini crossovers with some of the new animated series coming to FOX. The Simpsons always look like mutants when you put them next to characters who have more natural skin colors. The Simpsons were designed as yellow so Bart and Lisa’s hair and skin color would match and make sense without a hairline.
- The team has a debate over which they liked more– The Addams Family or The Munsters.
- Matt Selman became a Simpsons fan in college when the show started. He credits the entire creative team for changing entertainment for three generations now.
- Carolyn Omine was a huge fan before she started writing for the show. She always gravitated toward slightly weird stuff growing up.
- “Hopefully next year we’ll all be together again.” – Yeardley Smith
The Simpsons returns this fall on FOX.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.