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TV’s longest-running comedy will return in the fall, already renewed for its 28th season with all six of its voice actors having the option to sign on through an impressive 30th run. The animated series created by Matt Groening and from showrunner Al Jean has had a busy off-season, settling a contract dispute with Shearer that made headlines after the actor behind fan favorites including Mr. Burns threatened to leave the series. On top of that, the family comedy made headlines when rumors swirled that iconic couple Homer and Marge would divorce after Jean indicated the duo would legally separate in a season 27 episode. (More recently, The Simpsons skewered Donald Trump.)
The panel opened with clips debunking the divorce story as well as the Trump send-up before introducing Groening, Jean, executive producer Matt Selman, supervising director Mike Anderson, director David Silverman and voice star Nancy Cartwright (Bart, etc.). Cartwright enthusiastically made her Comic-Con debut dressed in Bartman’s mask and cape, running around the stage.
Jean teased that the season premiere will feature “all the girls from Girls,” with Kelsey Grammer‘s Sideshow Bob killing Bart in the Halloween episode, which will feature a couch gag by Ren and Stimpy‘s John Kricfalusi. Other guests coming this season include SNL‘s Kate McKinnon, Stephen Merchant, Michael York and the TV series debut of Spider-Pig from The Simpsons movie. The Spider-Pig episode is half a Maggie short that was produced “in Disney-style,” Jean said. Groening, meanwhile, also unveiled a new Bongo comic featuring bully Jimbo Jones.
Special guests at the panel included Guillermo del Toro, who created the impressive opening sequence for last season’s Treehouse of Horror installment. The prolific producer said the credits were a nod to the “great love for horror we all have,” and once he found out he didn’t have any limitations, “just went ape shit” with it. Del Toro also joked that the AT&T installation specialist refused to put in his phone line after visiting his home, which is filled with horror goodies.
Here are other highlights from the lively session:
• There will be a spoof on Oscar nominee Boyhood this season called — to no surprise — Barthood. “You see Bart as a 6-year-old, it’s a great episode airing this Christmas,” Jean said. The episode, Cartwright admitted, was one of the hardest she’s ever had to do on The Simpsons. “This one was tough because … he was 2, 6, 13 and 14,” she said before launching into voices of Bart at various ages ranging from 2 to 40, with the latter she joked “sounding just like Nelson.”
• Asked if there would be more crossovers between Futurama and The Simpsons, Groening said “it was possible.” “What’s amazing about Futurama is the fans are still watching the show on Netflix. You know how everything gets rebooted? Futurama will get rebooted someday. We’ll see.”
• Groening pleased a diehard fan — dressed as Leela from Futurama — when he declared her birthday, March 19, Marge’s birthday as well.
• “I want to play Bumblebee Man’s brother,” del Toro said, noting he frequently pitches Groening the role before launching into his best “No me gusta!” impression.
• Groening also shared that he added the “s” onto the end of the show’s opening theme with Danny Elfman after the original sounded as if it were singular instead of plural.
• The panel concluded with two clips from the Halloween episode, one with Sideshow Bob and the other, “Homer-zilla.” (We’ll update with video if it becomes available.)
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