July 23, 2011 5:50pm PT by Emily Rome
Comic-Con 2011: 'The Simpsons' Top 7 Highlights From the Panel
The Simpsons panel didn’t feature any of the show’s voice cast, but five of the show’s writers and producers were on hand for an animated (no pun intended) discussion that made lots of time for questions from the fans.
Here are seven highlights from the Saturday afternoon panel:
1. Guest stars revealed: The voices of plenty of talented actors and celebrities will be coming to The Simpsons in Season 23, including Kiefer Sutherland, Neil Gaiman, Gordon Ramsay, Joan Rivers, and Michael Cera, who will voice a love interest for Lisa.
2. This season the Simpsons will achieve the landmark of having visited all seven continents: Yes, this means the Simpsons family is headed to Antarctica.
3. What’s the true reason there hasn’t been a Simpsons/Futurama crossover episode? “Futurama is real and Simpsons is just a cartoon,” Groening joked.
4. No crossover is actually in the works, but this season will feature an episode by Futurama writer Stewart Burns. Fans will get to see aged Simpsons characters celebrating Christmas 30 years in the future, revealed showrunner Al Jean. The episode is set to air in December.
5. The Simpsons producers promise that the Universal Studios ride does not disappoint. Verdict: If you have yet to go on The Simpsons Ride, get to Universal Studios now. It may have replaced the Back to the Future ride, but Simpsons producers assured the Comic-Con crowd that once they try out the ride, which opened in 2008, they’ll be glad that Universal Studios made space for it. “This is no Captain EO. This ride is unbelievable,” Simpsons creator Matt Groening said. “I told my kids, ‘Your minds will be blown within the first three seconds of the ride – I guarantee it.’ They said, ‘Dad, quit hyping it. We’re your kids.’’ Mike Anderson, who was the ride’s supervising director added, “It almost killed me – riding it, not making it.”
6. How going widescreen and HD changed things for the writers: No more squiggles on signs and books. “It actually created a little more work for us. Now you can read everything,” explained co-executive producer Rob Lazebnik. “So we’re always going off and writing signs and writing book pages and writing journal pages.” Added Jean, “We spend a lot of our days writing books no one will read.”
7. Fans aren’t the only ones who have their favorite Simpsons merchandise. Jean’s favorite is his Simpsons pinball machine, which Groening and Sam Simon gave to him and each of the other writers after the show’s first season. Groening prefers his Simpsons Russian nesting dolls.