Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Simpsons Debuted 18 Years Ago Today - D'oh !!

Clockwise from top left: Homer, Marge, Maggie, Santa's Little Helper (dog), Bart, Snowball II (cat) and Lisa.

The Simpsons is an animated American sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. It is a soft-satirical parody of the "Middle American" lifestyle epitomized by its titular family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield, and lampoons many aspects of the human condition, as well as American culture, society as a whole, and television itself.

The family was conceived by Groening shortly before a pitch for a series of animated shorts with the producer James L. Brooks. Groening created a dysfunctional family, and named the characters after members of his own family, substituting Bart for his own name. The shorts became a part of The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. After a three-season run, the sketch was developed into a half-hour prime time show and was an early hit for Fox.

Since its debut on December 17, 1989, the show has aired 409 episodes over 19 seasons. It is presently airing its nineteenth season. The season 18 finale, aired on May 20, 2007 was the 400th episode, and 2007 marks the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons franchise. The Simpsons Movie, a feature-length film, was released worldwide on July 26 and July 27, 2007 and to date has an approximate worldwide gross of US$525.3 million.

The Simpsons has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 23 Emmy Awards, 24 Annie Awards and a Peabody Award. Time magazine's December 31, 1999 issue named it the 20th century's best television series, and on January 14, 2000 it was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Simpsons is the longest-running American sitcom and the longest-running American animated program. Homer's annoyed grunt "D'oh!" has been adopted into the English lexicon, while The Simpsons has been cited as an influence on many adult-oriented animated sitcoms.

The Simpsons, as they first appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show. From left to right, Maggie, Lisa, Marge, Homer, Bart.

Groening conceived of the idea for the Simpsons in the lobby of James L. Brooks's office. Brooks had asked Groening to pitch an idea for a series of animated shorts, which Groening initially intended to present as his Life in Hell series. However, when Groening realized that animating Life in Hell would require the rescinding of publication rights for his life's work, he chose another approach and formulated his version of a dysfunctional family. He named the characters after his own family members, substituting "Bart" for his own name.

The Simpson family first appeared as shorts in The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Groening submitted only basic sketches to the animators and assumed that the figures would be cleaned-up in production. However, the animators merely re-traced his drawings, which led to the crude appearance of the characters in the initial short episodes.

In 1989, a team of production companies adapted The Simpsons into a half-hour series for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The team included what is now the Klasky Csupo animation house. Jim Brooks negotiated a provision in the contract with the Fox network that prevented Fox from interfering with the show's content. Groening said his goal in creating the show was to offer the audience an alternative to what he called "the mainstream trash" that they were watching. The half-hour series premiered on December 17, 1989 with "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", a Christmas special. "Some Enchanted Evening" was the first full-length episode produced, but it did not air until May 1990 because of animation problems.

Meet The Voices Behind The Cast Of The Simpsons:

The Simpsons has six main cast members. Dan Castellaneta performs Homer Simpson, Abraham Simpson, Krusty the Clown, and other adult, male characters. Julie Kavner speaks the voices of Marge Simpson and Patty and Selma, as well as several minor characters. Nancy Cartwright performs the voice of Bart Simpson and other children. Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, is the only cast member who regularly voices only one character, although she occasionally plays other episodic characters. There are two male actors who do not voice members of the title family but play a majority of the male townspeople. Hank Azaria voices recurring characters such as Moe, Chief Wiggum, and Apu, and Harry Shearer provides voices for Mr. Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, and Dr. Hibbert. With the exception of Harry Shearer, every main cast member has won an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.

Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons"

Simpsons Wiki
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