There’s an entertaining interview with John Ortved at the Arts Beat blog at nytimes.com. (Yes it’s the same blog that thinks it’s Season 20, but it’s a different writer.) Promoting anything involves answering the same questions over and over again and this is no exception so there isn’t too much new content here, but there were two things I wanted to highlight. First this rather grim answer:
You make a number of references in the book to the decline in quality of the show. Have you ever heard of Fox or the folks behind the show pulling the plug at some point soon?
In terms of its spiral, to be fair to the writers, there’s only so much you can do with a set of characters. I mean, 20 years? I don’t know how they do it. But if they’re still trying to break ground, they should have canned it 10 years ago.
But I don’t see them ending it anytime soon unless it becomes unprofitable. They just opened “The Simpsons” ride at Universal Studios, and I see a trend in that way. In the interviews I conducted, someone compared Matt Groening to Walt Disney. “The Simpsons” is a brand at this point that is as recognizable or getting to be as recognizable as Mickey Mouse and Disney, and I don’t know why they can’t have a Simpsons Land at some point.
It’s the “unprofitable” part that really scares me, and not only because that’s when Troy McClure said it would end. FOX can afford to run whole seasons of new episodes as loss leaders (and it wouldn’t surprise me if they already are) because advertising is way less than 50% of Simpsons revenue. If the people in charge think the show needs to be on the air to keep the merchandising going then it doesn’t matter how bad the actual content gets. The ratings will have to become humiliatingly low to damage the brand. That hideous USA Today article we linked back in June made that much clear. Simpsons Land? Why not.
On a less sad note, Ortved has good taste in quotes:
Give me your three favorite lines.
This is really hard. O.K., No. 1:. “Does whiskey count as beer?” — Homer (after being asked by a TV announcer, “Are you on your third beer of the evening?”)
No. 2. “That man is my exact double … that dog has a puffy tail! [Chasing the dog] Heehee. Puff!” — Homer (on seeing a man who looks as exactly the same as him, lying bloodied outside Moe’s tavern, then being distracted by a dog with a puffy tail).
No. 3. “Me fail English? That’s unpossible.” – Ralph Wiggum
That’s a solid list, especially if he was speaking off the cuff.