Television's favourite dysfunctional family celebrates its 10th birthdayBy Pat St. Germain
© Winnipeg Sun/Jam!, January 15, 2000.
HOLLYWOOD -- Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire, Homer Simpson ... D'oh! The Hollywood Walk of Fame will never be the same. After immortalizing 2,150 live stars in cement, the Walk gave up its 2,151st star to The Simpsons Friday.
The first star for animated characters on the Walk of Fame, the homage to Homer, Marge, Maggie, Bart and Lisa Simpson was placed in front of the Galaxy Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard to mark the show's 10th anniversary.
From humble roots as a series of crudely drawn vignettes on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, the multi-layered comedy created by Matt Groening and launched on Fox Jan. 14, 1990 has come a long way, dude.
The longest-running prime-time animated series in TV history and the longest-running surviving sitcom, it's now also entrenched in the Guinness Book of World Records.
"A lot of people do tell us that the show could go on forever," says co-executive producer Mike Scully. "It's weird because you don't see the characters age onscreen, so it does seem like you could do that.
"We are very conscious of running out of stories to tell. But that said, you know, five years ago I never would have thought we would have been here for Season 11, and we're already breaking stories for Season 12. As long as we can keep the quality up and keep it funny, we'll keep cranking out cartoons."
And the Fox network, which can thank The Simpsons and Married ... With Children for its early survival, will no doubt air them. The timeslot immediately following The Simpsons has long been Fox's prime real estate, used to launch King of the Hill, Family Guy, That '70s Show and, last Sunday, Malcolm in the Middle.
Groening's sci-fi 'toon Futurama was pulled from the post-Simpsons slot to make way for Malcolm, a move that reportedly angered Groening, who was conspicuously absent from Fox's 10th anniversary party with TV critics last week.
His creations, though, were out in force. And since Fox plans a year-long fanfest that includes marketing dolls, Simpsons Pez dispensers, videos and Burger King, Pepsi and Frito Lay cross-promotions, fans will be seeing a lot of the clan in 2000.
On the show, Scully says, one of the regular characters will die during February sweeps, Bart and Homer will get a race horse and the season finale will be a spoof of VH1's Behind the Music. Titled Behind the Laughter, it's a fictional account of the Simpsons' life, with backstage bickering and an expose of Homer's painkiller addiction. Tonight, meanwhile, Don Cheadle guests as a faith healer who helps when Homer gets his head stuck in a bucket of glue.
Here's a Sun guide to The Simpsons:
EXTENDED FAMILY IS FULL OF FAMOUS FACES
Winnipeg rocker Randy Bachman, horrormeister Stephen King and pop princess Britney Spears are among the celebrity guest voices coming up on The Simpsons this season.
Some luminaries from the past 10 years include Steve Allen, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, Anne Bancroft, Tony Bennett, Dick Clark, Gary Coleman, Willem Dafoe, Rodney Dangerfield, Kirk Douglas, David Duchovny in an X-Files sendup, Dennis Franz, Mel Gibson, Kelsey Grammer in his recurring role as Sideshow Bob and David Hyde Pierce as his brother, Ron Howard, Mark Hamill in a Star Wars dinner theatre farce, Glenn Close, Stephen Hawking, Hugh Hefner, Bob Hope, Helen Hunt, Johnny Carson, Meryl Streep, King of the Hill creator Mike Judge, Steve Martin, Star Trekkers Leonard Nimoy, George Takei and Patrick Stewart, Michelle Pfeiffer, quiz-show hosts Regis Philbin and Alex Trebek, Werner Klemperer, Kathleen Turner, Batman Adam West, Henry Winkler and Tracey Ullman.
Among the sports figures who've guested are Canuck wrestler Bret (Hitman) Hart, Roger Clemens, Smokin' Joe Frazier, Jose Canseco, Magic Johnson, Mark McGwire, Joe Namath and Darryl Strawberry.
And musical guests have included the three surviving Beatles Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- McCartney and his late wife Linda introduced Lisa to vegetarianism when he met them at Apu's rooftop garden -- and bands Aerosmith, Cypress Hill, B-52s, NRBQ, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Spinal Tap, Ramones, Smashing Pumpkins and U2's Bono, Adam Clayton and The Edge. Elton John, Sting, Johnny Cash, Peter Frampton, Tom Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Bette Midler, Sting, Barry White and Hank Williams Jr. have also loaned their vocals in cameo roles. Willie Nelson guests on the 11th season finale.
CHARACTER TRAITS: MEET THE SIMPSONS
Loving but misguided -- and, OK, selfish, juvenile, moronic and gluttonous -- husband and father of three, he's mad for doughnuts and Duff beer, hangs out at Moe's Tavern a little too often and occasionally lays bets at the Springfield Dog Track -- motto: Think of them as little horses. According to wife Marge, he "blows his nose in the towels and puts them back in the middle and scratches himself with his keys." Voiced by Dan Castellaneta.
Career: Nuclear power plant safety inspector.
Accomplishments: Named Springfield Nuclear Power Plant Toxic Waste Handler of the Month in October 1990. Named Father of the Year in TV Guide in 1990. Named Bottomless Pete: Nature's Cruelest Mistake after he broke All You Can Eat Night records at The Frying Dutchman restaurant.
Favourite Book: A pamphlet titled So, You've Decided to Steal Cable.
Blue-haired mother of three, the former Miss Bouvier is the voice of reason in the family, although she does have an addictive personality -- she once went on a gambling bender and got hooked on eavesdropping when Maggie's baby monitor picked up racy cell phone calls. She also has a peculiar vanity -- she has her spiral hair done twice a day. Voiced by Julie Kavner.
Career: She's been a policewoman and a nuclear plant worker -- she left after she was sexually harassed by Montgomery Burns.
Hobbies: Starred in Oh, Streetcar! a local musical production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Occasionally rallies citizens to shut down brothels or ban violent TV cartoons.
Accomplishments: Once received a letter from Barbara Bush complimenting her on her hair and family values. Her hairdo got a cover story in the U.S. TV Guide in June 1993. Unlike chain-smoking sisters Patty and Selma, she's happily married and has never been the victim of a wife-murder plot.
Yellow, 10-year-old hellion, he enjoys dancing the dirty bird, making prank phone calls and hanging out with his myopic pal Milhouse. Loves to torment Principal Skinner, whose real name is Armin Tamzarian. Once burned down the family Christmas tree and blamed it on robbers but also rescued Krusty the Clown's career and saved Springfield when Sideshow Bob planned to blow up the dam. Voiced by Nancy Cartwright.
First Words: Aye, Carumba.
Favourite Saying: Don't have a cow, man.
Accomplishments: Appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in June 1990. Named Underachiever by various groups. Foiled Sideshow Bob's plot to kill his aunt Selma and avoided being murdered himself in a Cape Fear spoof.
An eight-year-old brainiac, gifted blues saxophonist and vegetarian do-gooder, her greatest fear is that she'll inherit Homer's dumb gene, which kicks in later in life. Reads classics and watches PBS but also enjoys Itchy & Scratchy cartoons and is passionate for Malibu Stacey dolls. The object of Milhouse and Ralph Wiggum's romantic obsessions, she once had a fling with bully Nelson. Voiced by Yeardley Smith.
Accomplishments: A straight-A student. Was featured on the cover of New York magazine in February 1996.
Hero: Blues great Bleeding Gums Murphy.
Deepest desire: To have a pony.
She's just a baby but she once shot Mr. Burns -- accidentally, we can only assume -- when he tried to steal her candy. Enjoys sucking her red pacifier. Voiced by Elizabeth Taylor.
Activities: Attends the Ayn Rand School for Tots, communicates through energetic bursts of pacifier sucking.
First and only word: Daddy.
Accomplishments: Like we said, she shot Mr. Burns.
One guy "looked at me and said, 'A fan of The Simpsons, huh?' " she says. "He was really sarcastic and kinda surly. And I looked at him and said (as Bart), 'Yeah, man, I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?' Do you know what he said to me? He said, 'No you're not -- I know the guy that does it.' "
It's time these actors got their due. The six main voices on the show and their characters:
Cartwright: Bart, Nelson, Rod and Todd Flanders, Mrs. Wiggum, Kearney.
Yeardley Smith: Lisa.
Dan Castellaneta: Homer, Krusty the Clown, Grandpa Simpson, Barney, Itchy, Mayor Quimby, Groundskeeper Willy, Scott Christian, Hans Moleman, Arnie Pie, Sideshow Mel and others.
Julie Kavner: Marge, Patty, Selma and Grandma Bouvier.
HANK Azaria: Moe, Apu, Police Chief Wiggum, Dr. Nick Riviera, Akira, Prof. Frink and others.
Harry Shearer: Montgomery Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, Dr. Monroe, Otto, Rev. Lovejoy, Ned Flanders, Dr. Hibbert, Kent Brockman, Scratchy and others.
Last updated on February 9, 2000 by Jouni Paakkinen (email@example.com)