Behind the Lines on 'The Simpsons'

By Annabel Vered

© TV Guide, January 3-9, 1998.

Putting words into the Simpsons' mouths is no easy task. Here, some of the show's alums recall their time in the trenchant trenches.

JEFF MARTIN, writer from 1990-93, executive producer of Men Behaving Badly. "I have a nice memory of being in a recording booth with [pitcher] Roger Clemens, telling him to cluck like a chicken. In the episode, a hypnotist is supposed to inspire him to play better but mistakenly convinces him he's a chicken. I was a big fan and happy to meet him. It was just an odd situation to be in."

CONAN O'BRIEN, writer from 1991-93, now star of Late Night With Conan O'Brien. "I was mostly appalled by the state of the furniture in the writing room. The couches looked like a college dorm, all beat up, and the springs were gone. Some writer had mashed a big blob of caramel chews onto the ceiling, and others had stuck stuff in it. No one ever bothered to take it down. It may still be there, it's probably now a historic landmark, there's probably a plaque on it."

JENNIFER CRITTENDEN, writer from 1994-96, now a writer for Seinfeld. "A lot of characters are drawn to look like the people on staff. I was watching a show last night, and I saw that one of the people waiting on line at the unemployment office looked like [writer] George Meyer. That probably pleases George, the people who know him and his mom!"

GREG DANIELS, writer from 1993-96, now cocreator and executive producer of King of the Hill. "I wrote an episode where Apu loses his job. I really wanted Michael Caine to be the person who ran the Kwik-E-Mart because it was a joke about the fact that he'll take any job. Ironically, he couldn't do it. We ended up with a very good performance from James Woods instead."

JAY KOGEN, writer from 1989-93, now a supervising producer on Frasier. "We wanted to get Bruce Springsteen to do an episode. I went to the movies one night and happened to see him! I ran up to him. I'm a big guy, and all he sees is a maniac heading towards him. I try to convince him that I work on The Simpsons and that he should do the show. He thought I was a maniac. We never heard from him."

AL JEAN, writer from 1989, now cocreator of Teen Angel. "Mike [Reiss] and I were the first staff writers hired in 1989. Everyone we knew turned it down because it was a cartoon. We didn't have other offers so we said, 'We'll do it.'"

MIKE REISS, writer from 1989, now cocreator of Teen Angel. "If a celebrity has kids, they make him do the show. The scary one was when George Harrison of the Beatles did the show because his grandchildren wanted him to. That made us all feel really old."

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Last updated on May 11, 1999 by Jouni Paakkinen (