A Look Back on Two Decades of The Simpsons
By Wesley Mead (firstname.lastname@example.org) - September 25, 2008
Finnish fans of The Simpsons get a treat this week, as a new book about our favourite family is published.
"Simpsonit - Keltaisen perheen kaksi vuosikymmentä" ("The Simpsons: Two Decades of the Yellow Family"), by The Simpsons Archive's own
Jouni Paakkinen, hits the shelves of Finland's bookstores Thursday, September 25. But while that date's
now upon us, the book a 263-page account of the show's history and production has been a long time coming.
Indeed, Paakkinen has been hoping to publish a Simpsons book for many years now. "I was in contact with Mark Pinsky
in 2000 2001 when he wrote The Gospel According to
The Simpsons and being able to observe how Mark created his book, it made me think that it'd be great to do one some day too",
Jouni notes. "Ever since I got my first publishing contract in 2003, I thought I was one step closer to this dream. However, as Finland
is such a small market area for books and hardly any books about foreign TV shows have ever been made here, I wasn't sure how to sell
my idea. But when The Simpsons Movie was the #1 movie
of 2007 in Finland, everyone realized how big the show really was over here. In the fall of 2007 I was offered a chance to do this book."
Since then, Jouni has been spending all of his free time on the book: "I spent nights, weekends, and most of my many
holidays on it. I loved doing it and would've gladly continued it even further, but I guess you have to put a limit and a deadline
somewhere!" As quite the expert in all things Simpsonian "I had probably 90% of the material in my head when I started writing, I
knew what I wanted to include" - Jouni's time was spent mostly fact-checking and digging out the most interesting anecdotes: "I've
maintained SNPP's news page for over a decade and even before that I've wanted to know everything that there is to know about the show
and things 'behind the scenes'. But I still needed to check much of the material, to make sure that I remembered it correctly, and to
see if I could find anything new about each topic. I also needed to place everything precisely on the timeline."
The final version of the book clocks in at 263 pages, "covering the history of the show, from its inception to present.
I do discuss some episodes of special importance of each season, but the main focus is on the show's production and various events
and occurences around The Simpsons over the past two decades. Also discussed are various merchandising issues, fans on the Internet,
viewer feedback, animated shows that followed The Simpsons, etc." The book is also home to a lot of information that casual viewers are
unlikely to have gleaned from official literature: "if you don't read all the articles you get your hands on or visit fan forums
day-to-day, it's difficult to get a full picture, just some glimpses here and there. In this book all these little pieces have been
put together, which hopefully makes it easier to see how things are connected and how it all came together."
Aside from Jouni's book, the show has prompted a number of unofficial fan publications about the show, from episode
guides to academic papers and analyses of the show's place within the pop culture lexicon. It's rare to find a show that garners such
attention. Jouni has a clear understanding of just why that might be: "the show's longevity and the number of topics covered on it makes
it easy to find references to various areas of life, whether it's religion, psychology, science or philosophy. The show is realistic,
especially in its early seasons, which makes it a mirror of our society and its events. And the show's importance in popular culture
the way it references everything and how it has been referenced to - makes it a very fruitful soil for an author." So how much of a role
did the website you're reading right now play in the completion of the book? "Naturally it was an important and very familiar source for
me. In addition to the information it carries in itself, it also helps to track down other sources of information available elsewhere
magazines, newspapers, etc. However, despite my close personal connection to the site, the book is not by any means based on it,
or endorsed by it. The approach and the contents are completely different and independent."
As of now, the book is only available in the Finnish language. But translations to other languages, including English,
may be on the horizon: "I didn't write the book for Finns only. Actually, everything revolves pretty closely around the USA, for obvious
reasons! I did try to include a Finnish viewpoint whenever it seemed appropriate - for instance, Bonnie Pietila's Finnish origins were
naturally discussed at length but events from all around the world are included. We're only now starting to look into the possibility
of translation. I very much hope that it gets translated in English at least, because it would make it accessible for so many people, regardless
of their native tongue. But at the same time, I know the competition is stiff and getting a book originally written in a foreign
language published in an English-speaking country is very difficult. I can only hope that my long-time dedication to the show makes a
difference and that some publishing house would see this as an interesting opportunity." I'm sure I speak for all English-speaking
readers when I say I share Jouni's hope on that front!
Simpsonit - Keltaisen perheen kaksi vuosikymmentä
By Jouni Paakkinen
Atena Kustannus Oy (2008)
Press Release (In English)
An Emmy to The Simpsons
By Don Del Grande (email@example.com) - September 14, 2008
The Simpsons has won the 2007-08 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program Less Than One Hour, for
the episode "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind."
The show did not fare as well in its only other nomination, as Alf Clausen lost the Outstanding Music
Composition for a Series (for "Treehouse of Horror XVIII") award to Pushing Daisies's Jim Dooley.
Other animation Emmys went to South Park's "Imaginationland" episodes (Animated Program One Hour or Longer)
and to Camp Lazlo (a new Special Class Short-Format (15 minutes or less) Animation category).
These awards were announced at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony on September 13, and a
heavily-edited two-hour version will air on E! on September 20.
Two Emmy Nominations for The Simpsons
By Don Del Grande (firstname.lastname@example.org) - July 20, 2008
The Simpsons received two nominations for the 2008 2009 Primetime Emmy Awards; one for the
show itself, for the episode "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind", and one for music composer Alf Clausen, for
composing the background music to "Treehouse of Horror XVIII". These are the 45th and 46th nominations the show
has received, including the 17th for animated programming and the 20th for the show for Clausen.
The show's competition in the Animated Program Less Than One Hour category is:
These categories will be part of the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony, to be held September 13;
a heavily edited version, in which usually the only speeches heard in their entirety are the ones for the
"guest actor" and "guest actress" categories, will air on E! on September 20 at 8 PM (Eastern/Pacific).
- Creature Comforts America ("Don't Choke to Death, Please")
- King of the Hill ("Death Picks Cotton")
- Robot Chicken (the Robot Chicken Star Wars episode)
- SpongeBob SquarePants ("Inmates of Summer / Two Faces of Squidward")
In addition, two animation categories Voiceover Performance and Individual Animation
Achievement do not have nominees; instead, all entries are judged on their own merits, and the winner or
winners, if any, will be announced sometime in August. There is speculation as to whether or not this is
"finally Harry Shearer's year"; in the sixteen years this category has existed, the show has won 12 Emmys in
this category, including all of the show's stars except for Shearer.
Salary Dispute $ettled
By Jouni Paakkinen (email@example.com) - June 6, 2008
The cast of The Simpsons has reached a new contract with 20th Century Fox Television.
The agreement is for four years and the six actors will earn nearly $400,000 per episode.
This main cast includes Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer and
The agreement means that the work on the 20th season may continue. It is expected to have 20 episodes
which is 2-4 less than usually. Note that the four-year deal does not automatically mean that the show
will continue to its 23rd season. For now, the current contract between Gracie Films and Fox only covers the upcoming
season. A recent Newsday
suggested that the uncertainty of the show's future might be a result of increasing production costs and
This was not the first time when the negotiations with the cast became heated. In 1998, Fox went
as far as threathening to replace the whole cast if they held on to their demands. Voice actors expressed their
concerns in the media and even fan newsgroups. It was rumored that the other voice actors refused to negotiate with
Fox out of respect for the work of the original cast. In the end, the cast settled for $50,000 per episode with
a yearly increase instead of the $150,000 they originally demanded. Negotiations in 2004 were also
According to Variety, as part of the new deal, voice actor Dan Castellaneta also becomes a
consulting producer and writer. He has previously written four Simpsons episodes with his wife, Deb Lacusta.
Going to Krustyland
By Jouni Paakkinen (firstname.lastname@example.org) - April 16, 2008
Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida and Hollywood, California are almost ready to open their
long-awaited Simpsons Rides. Transforming the old "Back to the Future" rides
to the new Simpsons theme has reportedly cost a whopping $30 40 million in both attractions.
Universal Studios has released very little preliminary information about the ride, but according
to Los Angeles Times, it starts with a Krustyland carnival pre-show and then utilizes the old simulator ride concept
from the former ride with some new twists, of course. It features new ride vehicles, new scissor lifts,
new motion platforms, new Sony digital projectors and new 90-foot-tall domed screens. There are also some special
effects, including air and water sprays.
The ride takes about six minutes and includes all-new animation and the original voices by the
show's acclaimed voice actors. However, due to his decision not to participate, Harry Shearer and his characters
including Mr Burns and Smithers are not present on the ride. Doc Brown from the previous ride is said to make an
animated appearance. With the help of two giant domes and multiple levels, the ride can take up to nearly 2,000
visitors per hour.
The Simpsons Ride opens in Universal Orlando on May 15-16 and in Hollywood on May 17. Celebrity
guests are expected to participate in the opening festivities. The official site of the ride is available at
Screwballs Have Spoken
By Solon Boomer-Jenks (email@example.com) - March 31, 2008
Have you ever been offended by an episode of The Simpsons so much that you felt the need
to complain to a government agency? If so, you are apparently not alone. The website
governmentattic.org has obtained a compilation of all informal complaints
about The Simpsons made from 2003 through 2007 to the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC), the US agency responsible for regulation of television broadcasts.
It will likely not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the controversies surrounding the
show since its inception that many of the complaints are related to language used by the show's characters and the
impact of the show on children. The early misconceptions that The Simpsons is a show targeted toward children seem to
live on in some of the complaints. One complainant demands that the FCC "at lest make sure no more smut and garbage
and indecent defaming programming is shown when babies are watching television at 7 pm." Some parents wrote to express
their concern that the show impacts the behavior of children. One wrote in a complaint about both The Simpsons and
Family Guy, "These programs show disrespect to parents from their children, so in turn, my child tries to disrespect me."
Another goes further in perceived impact asking the question "...who do we turn to when these kids get pregnant and
kill 14 kids in school?" This complaint concludes demanding action by stating "Do something - or get out of the job."
Also somewhat predictably, the episode "There's Something About Marrying", which involves the
subject of homosexual marriage, generated several complaints. In the run-up to the airing of the episode, the FCC
received some demands to preemptively stop the episode from airing. On the other side, following the episode, some
felt the need to complain about the FOX network's decision to precede the episode with a "viewer discretion" advisory
(the first time FOX had done this before an episode of The Simpsons) warning of the episode's subject.
A few complaints are slightly less predictable. A military recruiter wrote a complaint in
response to the episode "G.I.D'oh" alleging unfair portrayal of recruiters and suggesting the episode
will make his or her job more difficult. Advertising for the show is not immune from complaints. One radio
listener complained about an advertisement in which Homer is heard saying the word "ass". Another advertising
complaint alleges that the FOX network falsely advertised that it would show an advertisement for
The Simpsons Movie during an episode of The Simpsons. The complainant suggests that this was done as a
ploy to increase viewership of the episode and says that the FCC "MUST take action to stop companies from doing this."
Some of the complaints may appear unbelievable. One seems to allege that the FCC has censored
episodes of the children's educational program "Barney and Friends" while allowing explicit content to air
uncensored on The Simpsons. Another complains of an unidentified episode in which women wear swimsuits. "While there
were no nudity," the complainant writes, "this scene certainly was inappropriate because women should be dressed
conservatively and obey the wishes of their husbands." Is this a joke? You can judge for yourself. The compilation
of complaints is available as a 58-page PDF document.