The Simpsons has been a part of the Fox network almost as long as there has been a Fox network. Chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman don't see that changing when the network separates from 20th Century Fox TV, the show's studio home.
"The Simpsons is so much a part of the brand, there's been such an incredible halo effect of that show and the other animated series that are on our Sunday night," Walden said Thursday during her time at the Television Critics Association press tour. "There are no plans for them to go anywhere other than Fox."
Walden added that "a couple years of episodes" for the show are already in production, given the long lead time for the animation process, so it's very likely the show will continue beyond the upcoming 30th season.
"Down the line, what kind of decision is made, I can't really speak to, but for the foreseeable future, there's so much upside and benefit to having a great, Emmy Award-winning, smart, provocative, quality show," she said. "There's no consideration of not ordering more Simpsons."
When 20th TV and other 21st Century Fox assets become part of Disney, Newman said, The Simpsons will become to Fox what The Big Bang Theory is to CBS — a long-running show licensed from an outside studio.
"As long as we've all been in business, networks have licensed shows they don't have ownership of," he said. "It is challenging, and I anticipate it will be challenging on The Simpsons. But as Dana said, The Simpsons is so associated with Fox, and that association benefits both the network and the owner of the IP. … I feel confident Disney and Fox are going to find a way to both have an interest in that show."
Walden also briefly addressed the controversy of the show's portrayal of Apu, who's voiced by Hank Azaria. She said she wasn't surprised with reaction to the way The Simpsons addressed it onscreen in April — "in a day of social media, fans are able to have a very public forum and have these conversations" — but the network is leaving it in the hands of the writers as to how to handle things in the future.
"We have had conversations with Jim Brooks and his team, and basically we've left it up to them. I think they've treated the show and the characters on the show with such respect that we trust them to handle it in a way that will be best for their show," Walden said. "I'm not sure yet what they're going to do, but ultimately we decided that was their decision."