Cowabunga! 'The Simpsons' turns 500
The characters, which began as droopier versions in 20-second cartoons on "The
First, though, consider some numbers. Now in its 23rd season, the show has won 27
Guest stars have included
Before they worked together, Groening loved Castellaneta's improv work, and Castellaneta read Groening's "Life in Hell" comics; the two still get a kick out of each other.
Question: Did you have any notion "The Simpsons" would have such a life or that it would provide your livelihoods?
Groening: I thought the show would be a hit. It was always defined even when they were 20-second cartoons on "The Tracey Ullman Show." It was designed to be a TV series. However, I didn't think it would be that successful. Maybe we would get it on the air. I didn't think we would have it on the air 25 years later. I have been working with Dan since '87, and I still can't believe those voices come out of his mouth. I am always reminded of when Dan and I were in New Orleans and walking around the French Quarter, I would throw out ideas to Dan, and one was an idea (that has not been done) when the Simpsons get a pet baboon, and it's very aggressive, and the Simpsons have to live on the first floor of the house.
Castellaneta: (In Homer's voice) Stay there, Coco! Don't play with that! That is the remote. That's mine. I am beginning to think this is not a good idea.
Q: What are your favorite lines?
Groening: My favorite line you ever said on the show was in the ill-fated monorail episode. The control panel opens up, and a mother possum is hanging by (her) tail, and Homer says, "I call the big one Bitey." He doesn't understand it is a possum. And he is perfectly happy that it bit him.
Q: Who have been some of your favorite guest stars?
Groening: The high point of my life was watching Dan crack up
Castellaneta: Mick Jagger said, "Homer, we want you to come to the concert." But Homer thought he would play in the band. And Mick Jagger said, "We just need you to check the mic." Homer said, (in Homer's voice) "Can't you do it?"
Groening: No one ever said that to Mick Jagger.
Q: Who would you still like to have on the show?
Groening: Off the top of my head, it would be cool if
Castellaneta: He was our first big name.
Q: Any other stories from guest stars?
Groening: When Paul and Linda McCartney guested on the show, we made Lisa a
Q: Are either of you ever surprised by what you can get on TV?
Castellaneta: (Anchorman) Kent Brockman was on (the air). The town split in two, and they drained the river and found gold at the bottom, so we can buy water so everyone can be taking golden showers. And Kent Brockman was snickering, and I thought, "That is never going to make it on." And some of the most innocuous -- you can't show Homer's butt crack more than twice. That's because we don't want anyone to get too turned on.
Q: When you're clicking through stations, will you stop and watch?
Castellaneta: I will watch.
Groening: When you are working on these episodes, you are trying to make them as good as possible and spend long hours trying to make it look tossed off. To then be able to look at it years later, generally I find I like them more than I did at the time.
Q: Why is the show a legend?
Castellaneta: Certainly the length of the show, how long it has run. The show carved out new territory. I feel it has influenced a lot of movies and other television shows. You even think some Simpsons were blown up into movies. I have seen some plots of movies, and I have said, "Wait a minute, we did that five years ago." But I am not saying
Groening: It is fun to know that you entertain people over a long number of years, and some kids have grown up, their world has always been a world in which "The Simpsons" are always on TV. And that we have done this comedy that is basically a checklist of all of the different ways there are of doing jokes, parodies and homages to older movies and silent movies and cartoons and many autobiographical elements of whoever wrote the scene.