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Visiting “The Simpsons”

As many of you know, I don’t have a twitter page, but Denise, social goddess that she is, made one for our book, The Simpsons in the Classroom–you can follow us under Simpsonology. It is through this apparently fabulous entity that we got in contact with some of the heavy hitters at THE SIMPSONS: David Silverman, animator & director; Josh Weinstein, producer & show runner & writer; and Chris Ledesma, music editor. The latter invited us to see a recording of the music for the show if we were ever in LA. This year’s MLA happened to be in LA, so down we went last weekend.

Walking on to the Fox lot, we were nervous. As Denise had explained to our friend Kathy, our excitement was extraordinary because the circumstances were. How many people have loved one thing and been obsessed with one thing, since 1987? How many people then teach it and write about it? How do you expect people to react when they get to meet their obsession after over twenty years? (I think we held ourselves together very well, all things considered.)

Getting our passes from the guard seemed surreal; I think we were both expecting to be turned away, like it was all some sort of mistake, but the passes were given and we set off down a fake street that they use on BONES and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER toward the FUTURAMA trailer to meet up with Josh. Josh used to work on THE SIMPSONS, but now is on FUTURAMA, which Comedy Central will hopefully renew (it’s been really good lately–check it out!). The two nice people in reception were expecting us, and Josh was summoned.

We started with a tour of the Futurama building–his office, the revision room, etc. Josh offered us some Matt Groening doodles that were on post-its in the revision room. Apparently, Groening can’t sit down without doodling something and we now have our own proof of that.

Then Josh took us on a brief tour of relevant parts of the lot. The recording stages in one building are named after three famous Hollywood women–Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, and Marge Simpson. We couldn’t access Marge’s studio because they were doing some dubbing for BONES. “You mean Angel from BUFFY might be in there?” quipped Denise.

The old SIMPSONS‘s building itself looked like a motel–it was small and two stories and all of the rooms were accessible by the outside. When you look straight on to it, you see a fountain with koi (and netting to unsuccessfully keep feral cats out) and bathrooms. Groening’s office is behind a nondescript door to the right of the bathroom doors.

Along the way, we met Ian Maxtone-Graham (who wrote, among other things, “24 Minutes” and who is very tall), Rob LaZebnik (“Homer vs. Dignity”), and Michael Nobori (“To Surveil with Love”). Due to Denise’s description of my love for Weird Al Yankovic, Mr. Nobori has probably banned me from the lot from now on.

Josh then took us for coffee at Moe’s Bar on the lot. We talked about working with his old writing partner, his brief stint on SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, Groening, and the behind the scenes stories of some episodes.

By this time, it was 11; we’d been there for an hour. Josh had to hand us over to Chris, which is where I’ll continue with the next post.

(Relevant pictures are being uploaded to Facebook; I can’t get them to post here . . .)

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