Rio vs. Springfield
By Jouni Paakkinen (firstname.lastname@example.org) - April 9, 2002
Riotur, the official tourism bureau of Rio de Janeiro, has asked its
attorneys to file a civil lawsuit against Fox in a U.S. court over the
recent depiction of its city by The Simpsons.
In the episode Blame it on Lisa, originally aired March 31, 2002,
the Simpsons visitited Rio to seek out a missing orphan whom Lisa had been
sponsoring. During their stay, the family members were robbed by street
urchins, kidnapped and held for $50,000 ransom, eaten by a boa constrictor,
subjected to sexually-provocative children's television programming, and
attacked by vicious monkeys.
He understands it is a satire, the agency's Sergio Cavalcanti told
Reuters. What really hurt was the idea of the monkeys -- the image that Rio de
Janeiro was a jungle.
According to Riotur, more than 220,000 US citizens visited Rio in 2001. This
year, the tourist industry has suffered from an outbreak of dengue fever.
Riotur president José Eduardo Guinle feels that the episode overstepped
practical boundaries in satirizing the city, and that his bureau's $18
million advertising campaign has accordingly been thwarted.
The Simpsons has previously taken-on a multitude of national stereotypes,
including an episode-length satire of Australia during its sixth season.
While no lawsuits resulted from the broadcast, the ensuing turmoil ultimately
prompted series-creator Matt Groening to apologize to the Australian people.
We didn't know anything about Australia. We knew we were going to get it
wrong, so we decided we'd get it wrong in every single way, he confessed.
Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoco has chosen not to comment on
the recent Brazilian episode which his spokesman, Alexandre Parola, said
contains distorted views of the Brazilian reality.
Additional complaints about the episode centered around the portrayal of
Rio's police as lazy and unhelpful, and of its slums as dirty and dangerous.
Riotur suggested that donating profits from the episode to the city's
orphans would be an approriate way to express the producers' concern.
Reuters, BBC & Folha
Maggie Roswell Goes Ghostal
By Jouni Paakkinen (email@example.com) - February 15, 2002
Maggie Roswell, the voice actress who until 1999 gave life to
popular Simpsons characters including Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy,
Miss Hoover, and Luann Van Houten, is coming back to Springfield.
Roswell, who recently announced her return to fans of The Simpsons
following a new deal with Fox, will voice the ghost of Maude Flanders
in the upcoming 14th season's Treehouse of Horror XIII Halloween
Based in Denver, Colorado, Mrs. Roswell originally resigned from
the series following failed salary negotiations with Simpsons production
company 20th Century Fox Television, during which she was offered a
token raise that couldn't cover travel expenses between her Colorado
home and Fox's Los Angeles-based recording studios. According to the
February 4, 2000 edition of the
Los Angeles Times, the amount offered was a mere $150.00 dollars more per episode.
Following her departure, voice actress Marcia Mitzman Gaven was
called upon to keep Roswell's characters talking. But soon after,
fans witnessed the death of character Maude Flanders, the loving wife
of the Simpsons' next door neighbor Ned, and serious reductions in the
screen time afforded to her remaining characters.
But with her upcoming appearance in next year's Halloween episode,
Roswell is hopeful of eventually returning to her former role as a
semi-regular presence on the series. It depends on Fox, the story
lines, and whether or not I can do the shows from Colorado, Roswell
told The Simpsons Archive. I don't think in today's economy and with
the Airline strikes that Fox will fly me in to Los Angeles.
Said Roswell of her absence, I have been touched by the letters
I've received from people who said how much they miss my doing the show.
Unfortunately, Fox believed that the fans of the show wouldn't be able
to tell I wasn't doing the voices [anymore].
To overcome the commuting problem, Roswell's appearance in next year's
Halloween episode will be recorded at her Denver-based
Audio R'n'R studios,
which Roswell owns and operates along with her husband, Hal Rayle. The
state of the art studio, which has been involved in numerous commercial
projects for companies including AT&T, Perkins, Quest, and Universal,
will allow Roswell to record her parts in next year's halloween show and
deliver them digitally to the Los Angeles production facilities via ISDN.
Roswell sees her Audio R'n'R enterprise as a communication entertainment
company, specializing in infusing dry text with humor and accessibility.
Audio R'n'R additionally sells compact discs containing humorous answering
machine messages under the Phoney Images moniker, including some tailored
specifically to various holidays.
Despite the death of her most prominent character Maude Flanders,
Simpsons fans are still quite eager to see Roswell return to the series
and resume her other common roles as the voice of Helen Lovejoy, Miss
Hoover, and Luann Van Houten in the long term. Whether this happens,
however, will depend upon Fox's position on the recording of her roles
For Roswell, working at her own studio, far away from directors, is
a cinch. I am used to being directed virtually, she says. We have
been out of L.A. for 8 years, so most of our work is done through phone
or land patch. Having familiar characters to voice makes it notably
easier as well. I know Maude and the rest of my characters inside and
out. Adds Roswell, I do miss the interaction with my fellow actors,
In the meantime, she finds the Colorado lifestyle significantly more
enjoyable, and has used the extra time at home to finalize her soon to be
released book, Springfield: Inside/Out -- the story of her first ten
years on the series. While a specific release date has yet to materialize,
Roswell believes the timing of its release is crucial. We'll keep you posted.
Finally, Maggie asks us to relay her thanks to all those who pitched
for her during the past few years. If you would like to hear more of her
work on the show, just be sure to drop Fox a line!
Simpsons Card Mania!
By Jouni Paakkinen (firstname.lastname@example.org) - January 7, 2002
Inkworks has announced
SimpsonsMania! a new collection
of trading cards with all fresh and original Simpsons art.
The base set of 72 cards is spiced up with interactive subsets
including Treehouse of Horror Cards with a black light image on the back,
artistic interpretations of Simpsons characters in Bart Gallery Cards, as well as
Packy Wack Cards and various Character Cards.
As a special treat for collectors, randomly inserted bonus cards include:
Each pack contains seven collector cards. Suggested retail price is $1.99.
A collector album for storing the cards is also available. See press release
and Inworks' web site for further details.
- Simpsadelic Blacklight Cards; (9 cards, approximate odds 1:11 packs)
- Fold 'Em Cards; with interchangeable tops and bottoms (9 cards, 1:17)
- Sketch Card Artists; personally hand drawn and individually numbered (9 artists, multiple images, 1:144)
- Autograph Cards; featuring voice actors (7 cards, 1:71)
- Box Loader and Case Loader cards (1 per display box and 1 per case)
SimpsonsMania! makes the second Simpsons card set by Inkworks, following
up the company's first set released in fall 2000.
The Hank Azaria Show
By Jouni Paakkinen (email@example.com) - December 8, 2001
Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria has been awarded his own comedy series
on NBC, a network with which he has worked numerous times before. As a
mid-season replacement for Emeril, The Hank Azaria Show
will debut on January 8 in NBC's Tuesday 8 PM time slot.
Azaria, 37, will play self-effacing comedy writer Josh Miller, whose
daydreams provide an outlet for his home and career frustrations.
According to Daily Variety, the new show's future is uncertain. NBC is
presently searching for a new producer, and has placed its taping
schedule on hiatus. The five episodes completed thus far are scheduled
or air before the Winter Olympics.
Hank Azaria is best known for his many vocal roles on The Simpsons,
where he brings life to popular characters including Moe the Bartender,
Chief Wiggum, Apu, and Professor Frink. Along with five other key
Simpsons voice cast members, Azaria signed a deal for the current and
upcoming 14th season of the series last spring, with an option for a
15th season. The contract will hopefully ensure that the show's 13th
season will not be its last.
Earlier this year, Azaria won his third Emmy for the role of the Comic
Book Guy, this time for his role in the 12th season episode, Worst Episode Ever.
Update (01/21) Due to poor ratings, the show has been
cancelled after just two episodes.
Duffs off or Cuffs on
By Jouni Paakkinen (firstname.lastname@example.org) - December 8, 2001
Attorneys representing 20th Century Fox have approached a family-owned
brewery in Dunedin, New Zealand, demanding that they cease and desist
all production of their Duffs brand alcoholic beverage.
The incident marks the second legal scuffle over the Duff beer brand
portrayed in The Simpsons. In 1996, Fox successfully sued
The South Australian Brewing company for producing Duff brand beer, citing a
violation of copyright over the Duff Beer name and logo. In forcing
the company to cease its manufacture, South Australian Brewing company
Duff beer cans became a hot collector's item among fans of The Simpsons.
The brewery, operated by the Duff family, I have
always thought the letter might come one day, Mr. Duff said to Independent Newspapers.
In complying with Fox's wishes, the Duffs have rebranded their beverage
McDuffs. Fox, in response, has offered to help the brewery cover some
of the costs of replacing labels and other promotional materials.
When asked for his thoughts on the matter, Mr. Duff expressed surprise
rather than resentment, unclear on what all the fuss was about. I have
been amazed at how many Americans come in here and mention it. Grown
adults, people in their 50s and 60s, and they all watch that programme,
Duff said. According to the report, Mr. Duff has only watched the show
once, and concluded that it was rubbish.
Stuff / Independent Newspapers Limited
DVD Set Hits Stores
By Petri Teittinen (email@example.com)
Courtesy FS Film - September 25, 2001
Starting with its 13th season, The Simpsons is no longer just an animated show.
It has become a phenomenon that's conquered television audiences worldwide. The citizens of Springfield
represent a very profitable trademark, under which nearly everything from t-shirts to dolls have been
sold throughout the years. That said, it comes as no surprise that 20th Century Fox is now releasing the
complete first season as a three-disc, boxed DVD set, complete with everything from stylish packaging to
custom-made illustrations and colored disc labels.
The forewording by series creator Matt Groening, printed in the inside sleeve, is both
blatantly honest, and damned funny. Those same accolades can be used to describe the show itself, which by
means of humor depicts the distress of a modern family in all its horror ... and delight.
Admittedly, the first season of The Simpsons is not a favorite among many fans.
The stories and character personalities were still very much in development, the animation was occasionally
crude, and the producers had to wrestle endlessly with their tight budget. Even Homer's voice wasn't in-line
with its modern-day form, despite the fact that Dan Castellaneta has voiced the character since its first
utterance. However, watching the early episodes, with all their fumbling and stumbling, is an educating and
entertaining experience, one that adds depth to today's episodes and illustrates how immensely the show evolved
during its first year alone.
Considering the show's popularity and the enormous profits it has generated for Fox, it's a
shame, however, to see that less attention was given to the DVDs' digital mastering process than to the design of
the packaging. As with many of today's DVD releases, the Season 1 DVDs' video suffers from digital noise. Although
it can be somewhat suppressed by players featuring a digital noise reduction function, a more severe problem is
the so-called mosquito noise clearly visible in high-contrast areas, such as along outlines. Encoding
techniques which minimize or eliminate this form of artifacting are not beyond the reach of quality mastering houses
today. So, with respect to the DVDs' video in general, one must wonder whether Fox decided to cut costs by
using a second-rate mastering service. Whatever the explanation may be, the digital encoding problems bring down
the total technical score by a full star.
Luckily, we are treated with a new 5.1-channel sound mix. All 13 episodes have new, Dolby Digital 5.1
soundtracks, even if their full potential isn't exploited at all times. While directional and spatial effects are
used creatively in dream sequences, most audio eminates from the center channel, leaving the episodes
with something resembling old-fashioned mono sound. Also, the low-budget production standards which affected the
show's early years are still evident, as heard in the sound remix's slightly stuffy texture.
Speaking with respect to special features, the best among the frankly generous helping thereof
is the series of commentary tracks recorded for each episode. Most tracks include the voices of the episodes' directors
and writers, along with one of the producers. Matt Groening is present on as many as ten commentaries. These tracks,
with bursts of laughter, inside jokes, and nostalgic memories, are also vast treasure troves of trivia, which should
please fans as much as the episodes themselves do. While every track isn't a comedic goldmine, several nevertheless
serve fans by knocking down or confirming tidbits that were once only rumors. Most of the special features are stored
on the set's third disc, and each episode is divided into six chapters.
The new Simpsons Season 1 DVD box set includes original scripts for the episodes entitled
Bart the Genius, Bart
the General, Moaning Lisa, and
Some Enchanted Evening.
What makes them especially interesting is the fact that they include Groening's hand-written notes and doodles. Other special
features include five minutes of outtakes from the original version of Some Enchanted Evening, and animatic
clips from Bart the General with commentary by Groening and David Silverman, which last a little under
two minutes. The Making of The Simpsons is a five-minute sequence composed of scenes from an
originally-50 minute-long BBC documentary, including brief interviews with the creators. The Foreign Language
Clips feature includes the same scene dubbed in French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and Portuguese.
The Simpsons first appeared as short-length vignettes in The Tracey Ullman Show.
As a special feature, the first-ever short, Good Night, is included.
The award for the most wacky special feature goes to the four-minute collage of audio outtakes from
Albert Brooks' appearance as Marge's bowling instructor in Life on the Fast
Lane. As stated in the commentary track, Brooks improvised nearly all his lines: the outtakes of his voice-over
session prove it.
The image gallery includes the particular strip of Life in Hell which originally caught
the eye of James L. Brooks, as well as about 40 early sketches of the Simpsons characters. The set also has two hidden features,
or easter eggs, which can be found by carefully poring over its menus.
For further details on the DVD releases, see the DVD News page.
The Simpsons - The Complete First Season
5 h, 1990
Show: * * * *
Technical: * * * ˝
(Review based on the region 2 edition)