12:51pm PT by Kate Stanhope
'Simpsons' Creator Says Owner Asked for Nicer Treatment After "Racist" Fox News Joke
"Lock him up!"
That was the surprising chant heard coming from Ballroom 20 on Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con.
It was none other than Simpsons creator Matt Groening, who kicked things off when the discussion at the show's Comic-Con panel turned to, naturally, President Donald Trump. After opening with a clip of animated Trump from this past season, the conversation turned to politics when Groening revealed that they had been asked by parent company 21st Century Fox to take it easy on Fox News after a joke that dubbed Fox News "not racist, but No. 1 with racists."
"Then Bill O'Reilly called us pinheads and look what happened," Groening added with a laugh of the now-ousted anchor. It was then that Groening asked fans to start chanting the phrase, a new take on the "Lock her up" chant that conservatives used in reference to Hillary Clinton.
The Simpsons repeatedly made headlines over the past year for not only predicting Trump's presidency several seasons prior but also for how it tackled his eventful time in office thus far. "Our show holds up a Springfield mirror to society, so that never fails to inspire us," exec producer Matt Selman said.
Looking ahead to season 29, Simpsons showrunner Al Jean revealed that the long-running animated series will be doing a Bob's Burgers couch gag this season. "Now you have no reason to turn your TV off between them and us anymore," Jean said.
Additionally, Groening announced that artist Bill Plympton will be doing a second couch gag for the series.
The exec producers also teased several previously announced guest stars for the upcoming season, including Shaquille O'Neal, Martin Short, returning favorite Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob and Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, whose character "has a very inappropriate relationship with one of the Simpsons," Jean noted.
As for upcoming storylines, The Simpsons Movie director David Silverman reported that he's working on an upcoming episode where the Simpson family travels to New Orleans for JazzFest. Jean also discussed another upcoming episode set in the future that will focus on Lisa. "You see where she might wind up, and she might end up with a woman," he said.
Jean also talked about a potential storyline that would reimagine Stephen King's It but with Krusty the Clown.
When asked by a fan, the team also teased the return of Bartman. "We didn't realize superheroes were so popular," Groening joked, before turning serious. "One day he'll come back."
Speaking of Bartman, Bart Simpson braved the crowds to make a special appearance at the Con. Bart's carefully crafted cameo on The Simpsons panel came to mark the 30th anniversary of the birth of The Simpsons, as well as the season that will (finally) see the long-running animated series break Gunsmoke's record for most episodes produced in a series. Among the topics covered? His favorite curse word ("boosum") and the City of San Diego's recent loss ("Screw the Chargers — am I right?").
After Bart's appearance, voice actress Nancy Cartwright, recently nominated for an Emmy, joined the creative team onstage to field questions about the upcoming season.
As part of the panel, Jean also revealed that full seasons of The Simpsons will once again be released on DVD, beginning with season 18 on Dec. 5. Like seasons past, the DVDs will include commentaries, extra features and deleted scenes. Jean also unveiled the cover of the season 18 DVD, which featured a solo shot of Fat Tony. The voice of Fat Tony, Criminal Minds star Joe Mantegna, then came out to join the panel, clad in a special varsity jacket adorned with Simpsons characters.
While the DVD is still months away from release, Groening came prepared with goodies for fans brave enough to ask a question at the panel. Giveaways included Bart slippers, a giant donut pillow and a custom illustration of Apu that Groening did on the spot for a fan.
The panel ended with a sneak peek of this season's Treehouse of Horror, which elicited applause and laughter from the crowd.