With a little help from Trump, ‘Simpsons’ to create history

Homer will answer fan phone calls live on air during 595th episode of the show


Reuters May 13, 2016
Motion capture technology, will track the head and arm movements of actor Dan Castellaneta and voice of Homer. PHOTO: FILE

LOS ANGELES: During his 27-year tenure as the bumbling patriarch of Fox’s animated series The Simpsons, Homer Simpson has achieved many impossible things, from space travel and becoming a superhero to destroying Springfield and winning a Pulitzer Prize.

But one thing he has yet to do is appear live on air. Until now.At the end of Sunday’s 595th episode entitled ‘Simprovised’, Homer will answer fan phone calls live on air during both the East Coast and West Coast airings, the first time an animated show has ever attempted the feat.

“He’s going to take questions for 3 minutes, talk about events of the day - I’m sure Donald Trump is going to say something stupid, so the material’s already written,” said Al Jean, executive producer of The Simpsons.

The animation magic comes courtesy of motion capture technology, which will track the head and arm movements of actor Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer, and immediately animate them for broadcast across the United States and several international markets.

A 7-second delay will prevent pranksters from asking inappropriate questions live on air, Jean said.

Since its 1989 premiere on Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s Fox Broadcasting, The Simpsons has become the longest-running sitcom and primetime scripted series in US history. The family’s members - Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie - are globally recognised figures of popular culture.

The show often playfully and poignantly satirizes American culture. One episode in 2000 depicted Lisa as US president 30 years in the future, after a Trump presidency decimated America’s economy - a topic that could be revisited during Homer’s live segment, Jean said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2016.

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