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Homer is where the heart is

In a rare interview, Simpsons writer Mike Scully talks about the show’s A-list musical guests, his love for Ned Flanders and upsetting the entire population of Brazil. He also tells us what to expect from The Simpsons Movie, which blockbusters its way onto the big screen in the summer.

Stuart Clark, 19 Jan 2007

Having recently overtaken Scooby-Doo’s 371 episodes, The Simpsons is second only to Gunsmoke and its 635 episodes as the longest-running light entertainment programme on American television. What’s the secret of their longevity?

“Lower your quality standards," he deadpans. "Once you've done that you can go on forever!"

Are the writers protective of the show's characters?

“We’re the worst offenders when it comes to disrespecting them, but at the same time we’re their biggest protectors and have certain rules that can’t be broken. Dr. Hibbert may have gone from being a pillar of the medical community to rivalling Dr. Nick in the incompetence department, but Marge, Lisa and Ned Flanders’ beliefs and principles will never change because you need something solid to contrast the madness with.”

I know tongues will be pulled out if the plotline’s divulged, but having been mooted since the mid-‘90s, can Mike tell us why now is considered the right time for The Simpsons Movie?

“We all need the money,” he deadpans. “Ex-wives to pay, children to send to the orthodontist. The idea originally was to do it as a postscript to the show, but we came to the realisation a while back that the show may never be done. Every time the audience appears to be greying, along comes a new generation of viewers.

“James L. Brooks is the one who got everybody together and said, ‘Now is the time’, and we’ve been working on it for a little over three years. The tricky parts were coming up with a story after you’ve done 400 episodes, and giving the audience something extra while staying true to the look of the TV show. It’s a question of size and scope and being able to do really elaborate scenes on the big screen that wouldn’t work on the small one. We’re still writing new material as fast as the animators can draw it and throw it away! It’s looking good though.”

As I said earlier, I’m busy on July 27.

Simpsons Images: The Simpsons TM and © 2007 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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