The Simpsons, the longest-running animated television show is back this fall, and TV Equals was on hand to learn more about the season from the show’s executive producer Al Jean. In the conference call, Jean talked about the longevity of the show, online clips, and this season’s guest stars, including Zooey Deschanel, who plays Bart Simpson’s (Nancy Cartwright) past girlfriend.
Homer voting for Mitt Romney
You might have seen a small clip of Homer placing his vote for Mitt Romney after wading through tough choices, such as the possibility of Romney wearing magic underpants. This clip isn’t in the premiere episode, however. Jean said it’s not in the Halloween episode, either. The clip is mostly to address the topical goldmine of the election.
“The premiere [is] September 30 and the Halloween show is early this year, October 7, so I thought, ‘Hey, why don’t we have Homer vote again, like we did in 2008 with topical references to this year’s election?,’ ” said Jean. He also said there are more clips for fans to watch out for. ”We wanted to do more things where we released them online first,” he said. “We may put it in an episode. We have a third one that might air before the election, but if that is preempted by baseball, then it’ll only be online.”
This season’s guest stars
Aside from Deschanel, Benedict Cumberbatch, Steve Carrell will also be a part of this season, as well as a few other guests.
“One that I’m really excited about is that they have a mock trial at Springfield Elementary presided over by Janet Reno, who plays herself and Lisa’s always trying to curry favor with her,” said Jean. “We also have Edward Norton, Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski.”
No-show special guests
It might be hard to believe, but there are times when special guest stars don’t want to be on The Simpsons. Jean talked about the few times that does end up happening. “ Occasionally…[there are] people whom we’ve asked to be on, and we wrote them a part…then they decline,’ he said. ”I won’t name them–all right, well, Jon Bon Jovi.”
Differentiating between New York episodes
The first time the Simpsons went to New York, “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,” became a hit with fans. The stakes were high to make this show different, and the storyline of Bart reconnecting with his first girlfriend seems to have done the trick. “We did such a memorable New York episode , we wanted to do it only if we had a new story line,” said Jean. “And we do new locations that I haven’t seen, not [only] on an animated show but on film. They go to the [The Standard] High Line, which wasn’t there when they went to New York previously so we try to do stuff like that. New York is a rich place full of interesting things. If we’ve repeated something, it’s to say ‘Oh, here’s what happened to that person.’ Or if we don’t repeat it…we’re trying to cover new ground.”
The longevity of The Simpsons
“The great thing about it is…you have this great setting and format that people are still interested in,” Jean said when discussing the popularity of the show. “So you can express yourself…you can still write and a lot of people will see it if it’s on The Simpsons. And that’s the great thing and that’s the reason we do it.”
Deschanel guest stars in the premiere of the 24th season of The Simpsons airs September 30 at 8/7c on FOX.