Archive for the 'Celebrity Voices' Category

09
Dec
10

Season 22 Upping the Guest Voice Count

Celebrities

Images shamelessly yoinked from SimpsonsChannel.

“Oh, Lisa, this isn’t real.  It’s just how you might look if you were a cartoon character.” – Homer Simpson

Despite it’s football inflated numbers the last couple of weeks, Season 22 is still on pace to set a record for the lowest ratings.  But that’s not the only record it’s on pace to break.  Through eight episodes, Season 22 has managed to cram in an astonishing eighteen (18) different guest voices.  That’s the most since way back in Season 11 (which had a record breaking 23 through eight episodes), and in terms of people playing themselves, it’s an all time high. 

Note: All data from Wikipedia, numbers reflect only the first eight episodes per season.  I am counting the Glee people as “themselves” for reasons that are obvious to anyone who watched that episode, though I’ll grudgingly accept that the Conchords were playing characters.

Season

Total # Guest Voices

# Playing Themselves

% Playing Themselves

10 15 8 53%
11 23 12 52%
12 13 6 46%
13 13 6 46%
14 16 11 69%
15 14 9 64%
16 9 7 78%
17 7 2 29%
18 16 7 44%
19 18 7 39%
20 14 8 57%
21 14 8 57%
22 18 13 72%

Standard small sample statistical skepticism should be applied, but it’s pretty obvious that Season 22 has relied far more heavily on celebrities playing themselves, even when compared only to other Zombie Simpsons seasons.  The only season to ever have a greater portion of its guest stars play themselves (through eight episodes) was Season 16.  But Season 16 had only half as many guest voices, and an outright majority came from just one episode (“Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass”). 

There are, to be sure, some bumps in this data.  Wikipedia counts bands as one voice instead of several, and people who are repeat guests, like Maurice LaMarche and Jan Hooks, are counted for each appearance instead of just once.  But those things actually make this list look better than it should since people like them are always playing characters, and bands pretty much always play themselves. 

I don’t know if this is going to keep up for the rest of Season 22 or if it’s just a coincidence.  I do know that anyone who’s gotten the sense that Season 22 has been unusually rife with cameos and cross promotion isn’t imagining things. 

08
Jun
10

Springfield city league softball is finally safe again

vlcsnap-9895 “Pick me! Pick me!” – Ken Griffey Jr.
“I pick Ken Griffey Jr.” – Ralph Wiggum
“Ah jeez…” – Bart Simpson

For those that haven’t heard yet, Ken Griffey Jr. retired from Major League Baseball last week. During the prime of his 22 seasons, Griffey was one of the best all around center fielders and a serious threat each time he stepped to the plate.  If the latter part of his career hadn’t been injury plagued, he would have probably ended higher up on the all time home run list than 5th.  Additionally, he seems to be one of the rare professional athletes who (probably) hasn’t succumbed to the temptations of extra-marital sex, recreational or performance enhancing drugs, public bouts of racism, bat-corking, pedophilia, wife or child beating, gambling, or any other of the felonious activities which, if you look hard enough, you will find multiple examples of in sports.

More importantly to me, Griffey was the last of the ringers on Burns’ Power Plant softball team to retire from the big leagues.  He was the youngest on the team at the time, and only he and Clemens played past 2001 (and Clemens only had to play once every few days and retired a bunch of times).  Now that the Plant’s ringer team is about as useful as the one Burns originally wanted to field, I thought it may be fun to take a quick look back at the other members to see how they are faring.

Steve Sax: Retired in ‘94 after lobbying to deny pensions for replacement players in the baseball strike. Ran for a seat in the California State House until his highly public divorce derailed his campaign.

Don Mattingly: Retired in ‘95. His number was retired by the Yankees, but only his moustache will end up in Cooperstown.  He coached with the Yankees for a few years, and in 2008 he followed Torre  to LA where he is now the hitting coach, probably biding his time until either Torre retires or mullets come back into style.

Darryl Strawberry: Retired in ‘99.  Cokey Cokeberry was one of only two players to win a world series with both the Yankees and the Mets, and the only player to win the annual lawn bowling tournament at both The Betty Ford Clinic and Suncoast Rehab center. The alleged wife beater and amateur race riot commentator (The infamous “Let it burn” comment), Darryl seems to be making a run at some sort of TV career with appearances on both the 700 club and Celebrity Apprentice.

Jose Canseco: Retired in ‘01.  The first of the Bash Brothers to appear on the Simpsons (McGwire wouldn’t get there for 7 more years) has spent much of his free time since writing books about, testifying in court about, and generally pointing fingers at, pretty much everyone in pro baseball.  Oh, also he was caught smuggling controlled fertility drugs into the US (he claims they were part of his post steroid-use therapy). And he has been trying to get into fighting, notably with an exhibition bout against Danny Bonaduce.  Throw in a few divorces and a couple of foreclosures and you’ve got most of the story.

Wade Boggs:  Retired in ‘99. Besides his conjecture-laden drinking reputation, and a long time extra-marital affair, this first ballot hall of famer is relatively clean, at least when compared to some of the other guys on this list.

Mike Scioscia: Retired in ‘92. Currently Scioscia is the manager of the Angles.  Starting in 2002 he led the Angles to AL West Championship 5 out of 6 years.  Not much else – this man’s all business.

Ozzie Smith: Retired in ‘96. He did some TV work for a couple of outfits, and now it seems he is a bit of a St. Louis fixture and has tried his hand as a restaurateur amongst other businesses. Only one divorce I could find, and side note: he has a kid that made it to the top ten of American Idol in 2005.

Roger Clemens:  Retired in ‘07 for like the 4th time.  The Rocket spent a lot of years at the other end of Canseco’s (and others – George Mitchell, I’m looking in your direction) various steroid-related accusations.  It’s also speculated he has had several affairs, including one with Mindy McCready when she may or may not have still been underage. He denies it altogether, and she says they didn’t start the physical part of the relationship until she was 21.

So there you have it. Compared to most of these guys Griffey is a first round hall of famer in baseball, as well as life in general. Along with these other guys, Griffey also got to be a sports guest during the golden age of The Simpsons. These nine guys actually had a role in the episode, and they all had humorous parts that affected the plotline. For the last ten years or so (including the aforementioned McGwire appearance) sports guests are just sort of thrown on for whatever reason and for the most part they not only fail to add to the episode, they distract from it. That’s right, I’m talking to you Joe Namath, Troy Aikman, Warren Sapp, Pete Sampras, Williams Sisters, Andre Agassi, Dan Marino, Tony Hawk, Oscar De la Hoya, Lebron James, Michelle Kwan, Yao Ming, Randy Johnson, Lance Armstrong and Chuck Liddell.

I don’t have anything else to say, so thanks for everything Mr. Jr., thanks for 22 years of fun, thanks for saving the Mariners, and thanks especially for the case of gigantism. That was funny.

24
Mar
10

Zombie Simpsons Ruins Another List

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1a

Zombie Simpsons has cheaply cashed in on the success of its preeminent forerunner in many, many, ways.  One of the most prominent is by cramming musical guests into episodes with little to no purpose and few, if any, jokes.  This list, which purports to be the top ten musical guests, contains only 60% real Simpsons.  The White Stripes, Lionel Ritchie, Metallica and Green Day all make the cut from Zombie Simpsons (or the movie), but none of the following from actual good episodes do:

  • Tito Puente (Who Shot Mr. Burns 1 & 2)
  • Cypress Hill (Homerpalooza)
  • Peter Frampton (Homerpalooza)
  • Tony Bennett (Dancin’ Homer)
  • Aerosmith (Flaming Moe’s)
  • Sting (Radio Bart)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers (Krusty Gets Kancelled)
  • Bette Midler (Krusty Gets Kancelled)
  • Linda Ronstadt (Mr. Plow)
  • Barry White (Whacking Day)

How you want to order these guests is debatable, and whether or not you like the music they perform is up to you.  But The Simpsons had far more than ten excellent musical guests whose appearances fit snugly into the episode and were always hilarious.  It seems a shame to not include them on account of Zombie Simpsons. 

23
Feb
10

You Forgot Someone (updated)

Lovitz Characters

“Marge, I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell anybody about my busy hands.  Not so much for myself, but I am so respected it would damage the town to hear it.” – Artie Ziff

Today a website called “The Top 13” (they make – you guessed it – Top 13 lists) ranked the top thirteen guest voices on the Simpsons.  The best part about it is that there is nary a trace of Zombie Simpsons.  Indeed, this is from the intro:

But as the show has changed over time, in our view the quality of the guest appearances has fallen off – now you are more likely to see an ill-fitting celebrity cameo than one that helps drive a funny plot.

So we know that their hearts are in the right place, and the list itself is very well constructed.  There are even video clips for each guest voice.  However, I have a couple of problems with it.  Let’s look at the top 3:

1.  Phil Hartman
2.  Kelsey Grammer
3.  Joe Mantegna

This is minor, but I’d like to offer a brief definitional objection.  The top three all made numerous and great contributions to the show but they’re not really guest voices, are they?  With the exception of Albert Brooks (#4) nobody else on the entire list was in more than two episodes, but Hartman, Grammer and Mantegna were practically cast members.  Grammer you could at least make a case for being a guest voice since he starred in all the episodes in which he appeared, but Hartman and Mantegna routinely showed up for little more than single lines.  I love what they did, but if we’re counting them as “guest voices” don’t we also have to count Marcia Wallace, Doris Grau and several others who showed up routinely as the same characters? 

The main problem I have with this list is the massive, inexplicable, glow-in-the-dark omission of Jon Lovitz.  That’s right, there’s no Aristotle Amadopolis, no Sinclair siblings, no Professor Lombardo or Artie Ziff.  Darryl Strawberry and Johnny Cash make the cut for being tiny parts (albeit awesome ones) of single episodes but a guy who helped carry multiple episodes doesn’t rate?  For shame. 

Where you want to put Lovitz on the list can be debated, but not having him, especially when you’ve got three more slots than is typical to fill, is just bizarre.  If it’s an omission, just a slip of the mind, that’s understandable.  But even if you really hated Jon Lovitz for some reason doesn’t his prevalence in the early years at least demand a mention?  The name “Lovitz” doesn’t even appear anywhere on the page and it’s a gaping hole. 

Finally, and this is more of a judgment call, but the complete lack of any XX chromosomes on here is a little glaring.  Especially down near the bottom where you’ve got guys like Tito Puente and Barry White playing themselves.  I love both of those appearances and both of those guys did fantastic jobs.  However, when you mention in the opening that you’re not keen on celebrity cameos it seems a little hypocritical to list them while ignoring the fantastic work done by, say, Christina Ricci in “Summer of 4 ft. 2”, Winona Ryder in “Lisa’s Rival”, Sara Gilbert in “New Kid on the Block”, Michelle Pfeiffer for “The Last Temptation of Homer” . . . and I could go on.  It’s also worth pointing out that all of those women had larger parts in their respective episodes than most of the voices near the bottom of the list.  Just sayin’.

Update at 4:36 EST: In addition to the comment from Jason below we had a brief conversation on Twitter.  It turns out they did think of Lovitz.  Here’s the exchange (remember it’s Twitter so read up from the bottom):

Top13 Twitter Exchange

29
Oct
09

Harvey Fierstein – Springfield Hero

Karl Book promotion seems to involve taking excepts from the book and repackaging them into headlines as a way to interest people in purchasing the thing.  In that vein I wanted to highlight one of my absolute favorite parts of Ortved’s book.  (Which you should think about buying, or at least getting from your local library where you can “borrow” books for free.)

Harvey Fierstein has solid Simpsons credentials.  He was the voice of Karl in Season 2’s “Simpson and Delilah” and Patty and Selma were stunned to learn that he was gay in Season 6’s “A Star Is Burns”.  Harvey Fierstein also thinks Zombie Simpsons is shit.  Well, he doesn’t say that in quite so many words, but he did say this to Ortved:

“Years later they contacted me when they wanted Carl to return.  But I didn’t really like their approach.  It had nothing to do with my character.  Homer and Marge have a fight, and she throws him out and he has no place to stay, and he runs into Carl, who sets him up with a pair of gay men.  All they needed me for was to introduce him to these gay guys.  But the script was basically just a lot of very clever gay jokes, and there wasn’t that Simpsons twist.  Jim Brooks and Matt Groening and those writers have always added that extra something beneath the surface, and it just wasn’t there.  Basically, Homer just had a lot of fun hanging out with gay men, and drinking in bars, and dancing at discos, and all that, and there was nothing – there was no commentary there.  Every restaurant had a silly gay name.  They gym had a silly gay name.  They were all double entendres, obviously.  And I said, “Anybody could do this.  You’re the fucking Simpsons.  Do something we have never seen before.”

And let me say that it was very flattering that they asked me to do it.  Jim Brooks said, “You know, you’re the very first voice we ever asked to come back and do it again.”  I was surprised.  I asked, “Why do they need me to introduce them to this gay couple?  Why wouldn’t he move in with Carl and his partner?”  Then I started thinking, Maybe [sic] they just wanted my stamp of approval on it because it was just a bunch of clichés.”

There’s more in the book, but the point is that Harvey Fierstein refused to be on Zombie Simpsons because it sucks.  Harvey Fierstein, you are my new hero.

[Edited to fix transcription errors on my part.]

28
Sep
09

Poor Seth

Seth Rogan Writes Zombie Simpsons

“Your life long dream was to run out on the field during a baseball game, and you did it last year.  Remember?” – Marge Simpson

Last night I came across something in a news feed.  I had already known that Seth Rogen was the writer of last Sunday’s Zombie Simpsons, but I didn’t know that it was some sort of attempt at self-actualization.   AP Television writer Lynn Elber, stating this was a dream of Rogen’s, quotes him as saying “As a writer it always just seemed like the Holy Grail…. …I can die a happy man now.”

I hate to have to tell you this Seth, because I’ve really enjoyed your film career of being the exact same character in like 5 or 6 different movies, but that wasn’t an episode of The Simpsons.  It has been, and will continue to be, impossible to write an episode of The Simpsons, as The Simpsons basically went extinct a little more than a decade ago. What you have done, Sir, is further the cause of the Zombie Uprising.

So there you go, life-long goal still unattained and now the undead are feasting upon the brains of the living.  Don’t feel bad though, most people’s goals go unfulfilled, although we usually don’t end up raising the dead…  But anyway, if I were you Seth Rogen, I would just give up on trying to write an episode of The Simpsons, all of the other writers did.

Updated because we apparently don’t know how to spell Seth Rogen’s last name.

30
Jan
09

Unsubstantiated Internet Rumors? Well, This IS a Blog

“Say it ain’t so Krusty.” – Bart Simpson
Is this going to be the kind of blog that overreacts to internet rumors of uncertain sourcing?  If it’s Friday and we’re looking for a cheap post, you’d better believe it is.  Look what the internet brought this morning:

Another celebrity voice (quite possibly playing herself), whatever; I’m numb to them at this point.  Wait . . . what?  Oh, fuck:

Contact Music reported that her role will be the girlfriend who testifies in court in defense of Krusty the Clown who is wrongly-accused of committing a crime.

Read that last part again: Krusty is wrongly accused of a crime.  Have the people behind Zombie Simpsons ever watched the show or do they just scroll through old episode titles looking for ideas?
(In case you were wondering, yes, that is an image of Hathaway Simpsonized.)



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