Just recently published worldwide, Simpsons Confidential by John Ortiveo, is described as the uncensored, totally unauthorized, history of the world’s greatest tv show by the people that made it. Ricky Gervais said it is the greatest achievement of humankind since putting a man on the moon. No wonder, since Gervais was asked to write an episode of The Simpsons after he won a Golden Globe for The Office.
The book is crammed with the great and the good singing the praises of this show and, at times, it is hard to find adverse comment. If you ain’t in the praise you won’t get praised in a great back slapping back scratching blast of a book. Yes, the grumpy abandoned are there too, but you have to wade through pages of praise that only a hard boiled yellow fan could appreciate.
The early bits where illustrator Matt Groening drew the family in the car on the way over to new station Fox to pitch a one minute cartoon idea for inclusion in The Tracey Ullman Show.
Fox were new on the block and losing millions and The Simpsons growth and popularity. Fox didn’t have all that faith in the comedy and gave Groening the merchandising rights to The Simpsons image. His wife exploited the merchandising as she did his early cartoon hit Binky The Bunny.
To read how teams of writers came and went in over twenty years, makes for great gossip and how Conan O’Brien, a Harvard climbed the corporate building is powerful stuff. Not for the faint-hearted.
James L. Brooks had a string of writing successes like Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Lew Grant and Taxi, before branching into The Simpsons and movies. If you are a Simpsons fan this book is a must read especially when Michael Jackson wanted to be included as John Jay Smith, a four-hundred pound bald white mental patient who is convinced he is Michael Jackson, sharing a room with Homer, who was committed to the mental institution for wearing a pink shirt.
Liz Taylor’s countless retakes of one word – Daddy, is now the stuff of legend as is her alleged F-word response after 24 takes.
The vast amounts of money made and often lost, is amazing, but none more so than the elaborate marketing hype spent on The Movie which cost less than 100 million dollars to make and took in 526 million worldwide. In a town called Springfield in New Zealand (pop. 219) Fox built an enormous pink-glazed donut, measuring nearly 20 feet in diameter.
On page 282, Jay Kogen reveals why people really liked The Simpsons and it doesn’t make for pretty reading for dyed-in-the-fabric fans.