13
Mar
15

Sam Simon Roundup

138th Episode Spectacular3

Did you know he drew this?  I didn’t know that.

“You looked so peaceful lying there.” – Marge Simpson
“There’ll be plenty of time for that!  I got tons of important stuff to do!” – Homer Simpson

This post was originally going to go up Tuesday, then Wednesday, then yesterday, but I kept finding more great Simon articles to add.  Regular Reading Digest will be back next week, including all the non-Simon stuff I missed from this week.  Several of these are from @DailySimpsons and @rubbrcatsimp, both of which are great follows if you want news and quotes from the show.

By Ken Levine: My thoughts on Sam Simon – I will leave you with two brief excerpts from Ken Levine’s goodbye note, but it’s worth clicking on in full right now:

In 1985 David Isaacs and I created a series for Mary Tyler Moore. For reasons I won’t go into here, it was a nightmare. We knew Sam Simon from our time on CHEERS. He graciously agreed to join the staff and help on this Mary project. As things went from bad to worse to the brink of thermonuclear war, Sam stood by us. Most of the other writers bolted. Not Sam. He steadfastly hung in there with us. Honestly, we could not have done it without Sam. For that and that alone I have always loved Sam Simon. He could do no wrong in my book.

And:

I worked with Sam on seven series and pilots. He attended family seders, special occasions, and he spoke at my SITCOM ROOM seminar (telling students that sitcoms were dead – thanks for that). He had a wicked sense of humor, even during his recent suffering. A few months ago, when PBS aired the Roger Ebert documentary he was tweeting “get to the cancer already.”

Ha.

‘Simpsons’ producer Al Jean remembers Sam Simon – It always has been one of my favorite lines:

“Here’s a joke that he put in in a show that was written with him and Matt [Groening, the show’s creator] and Mike and me. Bart is doing something to be popular and Homer goes, ‘Son, being popular is the most important thing in the world.’ And that kind of summed up The Simpsons, where it’s this dad giving what seems to be TV Dad advice, but it’s the worst advice in the world. It’s what no TV Dad should ever say. There were very few jokes that encapsulated The Simpsons as perfectly as that one.

Sam Simon (1955 – 2015) – Our old friend over at rubbercat.net/simpsons wrote the best and most complete obituary I saw, and it’s got a ton of great links.

RIP, Sam Simon: How a lone fear led to creating a key character on ‘The Simpsons’ – Great story:

“He was a hard guy. He was a really tough guy,” Silverman tells Comic Riffs. “He gave me a dismissive hand at first.”
One of the show’s first-season episodes, though, proved a turning point. Silverman — who had also worked on the 1989 TV short, “The Simpsons: Family Therapy” — wanted a prominent onscreen credit for directing the episode “Bart the General.” Simon, ever the writer, told Silverman he would give him that screen credit if Silverman could prove that directors really made a difference.
After Silverman directed the episode, he went to the dubbing session. There, with a credit as prominent as the writer’s, was Silverman’s directing nod.
“The guy in the session said to me: ‘You proved it.’ Sam was tough, but fair.”

Sam Simon: 1955–2015 – And another great story:

He was the funniest dying person I’d ever met. He found it hilarious that people were praying for him, because he was an atheist, and because the idea of fans asking God to heal the cocreator of a show like The Simpsons was inherently ridiculous: “It must be His least favorite show.” Toward the end of our conversation, his assistant brought him a stack of printed email messages. Media requests from various outlets. He sifted through them and grinned. “I wish publicity cured cancer,” he said.

‘Simpsons’ Co-Creator Sam Simon’s Battle Over Three-Eyed Fish – I did not know this, but apparently the show pissed off the nuclear industry so badly that they got to take a tour of a nuclear plant.  That’s how you know it’s good comedy: when it can get you past two layers of razor wire and twenty-four hour armed guards.

How Sam Simon Helped Make The Simpsons What It Is Today – This is a little clueless in terms of being about the show.  (The author calls “Treehouse of Horror” a “crucially underrated moment”, because, you know, nobody remembers the Halloween ones.)  But it’s nice to see this in the toniest of tony Eastern magazines:

the cultural legacy of The Simpsons cannot be understated.

How Tension Between Sam Simon and Matt Groening Built “The Simpsons” – Speaking of tony and Eastern, The New Republic, everybody:

Simon was as responsible as anyone for the unique “Simpsons” sensibility, that combination of gleeful impudence and populist courtesy

You had me right up until “populist courtesy”.  What the hell does that mean?

Sam Simon Dead: ‘Simpsons’ Co-Creator Dies at 59 – This is true:

Decades later, he told Stanford magazine of “The Simpsons”: “It was largely based on what I didn’t like about the Saturday-morning cartoon shows I worked on. ‘The Simpsons’ would have been a great radio show. If you just listen to the sound track, it works.”

Sam Simon Wiki: 5 Great ‘The Simpsons’ Moments From His Era – A video heavy appreciation of some of the innovations of the early seasons.

Seth MacFarlane was nice:

Had the mind of Sam Simon not paved the way for all of us in primetime animation, I wouldn’t have a job. He will be sorely missed.

Via David Silverman on Twitter, here’s (L to R), Wes Archer, Silverman, Rich Moore and Simon looking like a bunch of high school kids on their way to prom:

SimonArcherSilvermanMoore1990

Mike Scully with a great little story:

In 1985 @simonsam, who I had never met, called to go thru my spec Cheers script & gave me great notes & encouragement. Best rejection ever.

25 Years Later, This ‘Simpsons’ Episode Still Hits Too Close To Home – “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” was prescient in far too many ways.  Simon wrote it with Swartzwelder.

Sam Simon, Co-Creator of The Simpsons and Atheist Philanthropist, Dies at 59 – I did not know this:

“People say I’m trying to buy my way into heaven, which I don’t believe in. So that can’t be true,” Sam says. He paid for those atheist billboards that make news from time to time. Like the one by the Lincoln Tunnel, in New York, that read, IT’S A MYTH, on a picture of the stars over Bethlehem.

“The Simpsons” wouldn’t have been “The Simpsons” without Sam Simon – Good point:

Simon’s lasting effects on pop culture can be found in slightly more indirect ways as well. Just look at the accomplishments of former Simpsons staffers like Brad Bird (“The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”), Greg Daniels (“King of the Hill,” “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation”), David Silverman (“Monsters, Inc,” “The Road to El Dorado”), Jim Reardon (“Wall-E,” “Wreck-It Ralph”), and O’Brien, among so many others. Granted, they weren’t all Simon’s hires. But without his guidance, the show wouldn’t have lasted long enough to employ any of them.

I know that Daniels and O’Brien are more famous than Bird, Silverman and Reardon, but Simson did hire those three guys.  No need to pad the list.

Sam Simon – Chris Ledesma tweeted out his blog post from two years ago when Simon announced he had cancer.  This is a great image:

What I do remember is that he was very funny off the top of his head, he laughed heartily at things he thought were funny, and he was seldom without a cigar between his teeth.

I Hope To Die As Well As Sam Simon Did – Don’t we all?

Something called Voodoo Doughnut did this awesome tribute:

VoodooDonut

Maybe it’s not the best thing to say about the recently deceased, but I would eat the shit out of his jacket and head.

Was Sam Simon-era Simpsons the show’s golden age? – Half of it, yes.  This has been simple answers to simple questions.  (Oh, and I will argue the merits of Season 1 any time.)

I’ve linked this whole video before, but this seems like an appropriate send off:


12 Responses to “Sam Simon Roundup”


  1. 13 March 2015 at 2:07 pm

    azspot.net had a great quote regarding Sam Simon the other day

  2. 2 Bleeding Gums Murphy
    13 March 2015 at 10:04 pm

    >One of Groening’s ideas was that Marge Simpson was secretly a rabbit from Life in Hell, who was hiding her large rabbit ears in her hair. Simon firmly rejected the idea, but it appears Groening snuck the idea into The Simpsons Arcade Game without his awareness.

    What the hell!?
    We should be thankful Groening isn’t in control of Fox, he would become another George Lucas.

    • 3 Victor Dang
      13 March 2015 at 10:58 pm

      Uh, I wouldn’t really go that far. After all, he hasn’t yet stooped down to the level of animating in Gil in pre-S9 episodes and changing entire events (Burns shot first!).

      And besides, it’s a video game (plus the best Simpsons one out there to this date), so who cares? I don’t generally mind things being a bit wacky outside the main media format.

      • 4 Patty Cash
        14 March 2015 at 7:29 am

        Yeah. Besides, I can see Al Jean doing that just because Groening gave a half-hearted go-ahead.

      • 5 torbiecat
        15 March 2015 at 4:14 pm

        And from what I’ve gathered, people didn’t seem to make the connection of Marge having rabbit ears in the arcade game to Matt’s weird-ass idea until Jamie at rubbercat.net/simpsons had reported it.

        Besides, there’s weirder stuff in this game. (Which is kind of interesting considering that this game is one of the better, if not the best, Simpsons-related video games.)

    • 6 D.N.
      14 March 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Groening actually does strike me as a George Lucas/Gene Roddenberry sort of figure in that while he’s a great originator of ideas, he also needs a team of people to make those ideas work and to screen out his crap suggestions.

      • 7 Patty Cash
        14 March 2015 at 10:03 pm

        So that’s why James L. Brooks and Sam Simon (rest his soul — can’t really say “God rest his soul” since he’s atheist) were co-credited with him on The Simpsons…and why David X. Cohen (the same one who wrote “Lisa the Vegetarian,” believe it or not) was credited with Groening on Futurama.

        • 8 torbiecat
          15 March 2015 at 4:33 pm

          I suppose you can say that. Groening’s forte is with merchandising and putting on a friendly face to the public. Both Brooks and Simon are/were known to be a bit on the caustic side to say the least. Of course, a lot of people tend to look on any output negatively if the creator tends not have outwards warm and fuzzy presence, so I guess it was good Groening was there prevent that. (I’ve always found this phenomenon to be BS myself, but maybe it’s because I’m also the sort who does well creatively, but I do poorly in terms of PR.)

          I do wonder how much of Groening being pushed to the front and Simon being shoved to the back was on part of Fox’s behalf.

          • 9 D.N.
            15 March 2015 at 6:00 pm

            “I do wonder how much of Groening being pushed to the front and Simon being shoved to the back was on part of Fox’s behalf.”

            I think it was John Ortved’s book that mentioned Sam Simon feeling slighted by his lack of recognition for developing “The Simpsons,” and resenting Groening getting all the credit, only to be told that a newspaper cartoonist from Portland, Oregon making a successful TV show made for better publicity than a sitcom veteran from LA creating a successful TV show.

            • 10 torbiecat
              15 March 2015 at 7:06 pm

              And there was that whole thing where Richard Sakai supposedly sabotaged things for Simon, too.

            • 11 Patty Cash
              20 March 2015 at 9:42 am

              So Sam Simon got screwed over? Wow. I’m glad he made that deal to still be credited and not have to personally deal with the show’s decline (aside from watching it on TV like us poor schlubs who are either aspiring to write for TV or aren’t even thinking of doing that, but he had better things to do than watch TV, like most people with lots of money and free time).

  3. 12 Captain Wacky
    15 March 2015 at 6:10 am

    Sam ‘Sayonara’ Simon


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