Posts Tagged ‘Alf Clausen

28
Mar
19

Quote of the Day

“Music is none of my business.” – Marge Simpson
“That’s fine for you, Marge, but I used to rock and roll all night and party every day. Then it was every other day. Now I’m lucky if I can find half an hour a week in which to get funky.” – Homer Simpson

Happy birthday, Alf Clausen! 

31
Aug
17

Alf Clausen Fired

“So that’s it, after twenty years: so long, good luck?” – Kirk van Houten
“I don’t recall saying good luck.” – Cracker Factory Manager

Last night, Variety broke the news that longtime Simpsons music guy Alf Clausen will no longer be working on Zombie Simpsons:

Clausen told Variety that he received a call from “Simpsons” producer Richard Sakai that the company was seeking “a different kind of music” and that he would no longer be scoring the longtime Fox hit.

First of all, condolences to Clausen. Getting fired is rarely fun, and getting fired by the boss’s assistant, over the phone, from a job you’ve had for a quarter of a century, and just four weeks before the next season starts is especially crappy.

The Simpsons wouldn’t have been The Simpsons without him and his orchestra. Vulture put up a nice little package of YouTube videos of some of his more memorable contributions (there’s a tiny bit of Zombie Simpsons at the end, but who cares?), but for my money it’s the smaller musical cues that are what elevated the show.

To take just one example: the end of “Old Money”. The music gets heroic as Grampa quotes Kipling, then gets taught as Homer keeps him from betting, then resolves happily after the bet would’ve missed, and finally flows seamlessly into a sweet and uplifting number as Grampa uses Bea’s money to give the old folks some dignity (and a giant TV for watching cartoons!). It’s genuinely beautiful music and the episode would end with a thud without it.

And, of course, there’s all those other moments: the few Karate Kid-esque notes when Bart is training in “Dead Putting Society”, the heavy gloom of the endless line of mail trucks in “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge”, the seemingly infinite variations on “Baby Elephant Walk” in “Dancin’ Homer”, the dramatic campaign montage from “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish”, and, of course, the dual endings of “Lisa’s Substitute”, first when Mr. Bergstrom leaves and then when Homer patches things up with his heartbroken daughter. Oh, silly me, I just cited examples that are only from Season 2. Clausen kept up that kind of work for years.

Variety points the finger squarely at the cheapskates at FOX:

Speculation about Clausen’s dismissal involves cost-cutting measures, which have been ongoing at “The Simpsons” in recent years, despite its massive profits for Fox and executive producer James L. Brooks’ Gracie Films.

Clausen uses a 35-piece orchestra every week — something that “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening insisted upon from the start of the show. Including costs of musicians, recording studios, and orchestration, expenses routinely run into the millions of dollars per year.

The sourcing on that is obviously less than ideal. (It’s not even an anonymous source, it’s anonymous speculation.) But it does fit overall with the direction of the show these last few years. Ratings are down, and presumably the ad rates are down along with them.

I have no idea what Clausen himself was getting paid, but 35-piece orchestras aren’t cheap. Whether or not it’s actually in the millions per year doesn’t really matter. The team of monkeys that runs FOX made a purely mercenary decision, and, from their point of view, it’s probably the correct one. How many viewers who haven’t turned the show off already are going to care if the live music gets replaced by two guys and a synthesizer? The only immediate question is whether Clausen is done right now, or if he’s staying on through the current WABF production run, which has seven episodes left.

As for what this means for the future of Zombie Simpsons, who knows? A move like this is not the behavior of a healthy production, but we knew that already. Clausen’s involuntary departure, while bad for him and the show, pales in comparison to what would’ve happened if they’d followed through on replacing Harry Shearer two years ago, and by all accounts they were dead serious about that. FOX has already picked up Zombie Simpsons for two more production runs, which will take it through a full Season 30 and into at least a partial Season 31 in the fall of 2019. Whether or not this is a harbinger of the end won’t be known until next fall at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Zombie Simpsons has managed to get even worse than it already was. Given that it’s already unwatchably dull, this at least qualifies as somewhat impressive.

Good luck, Alf. We love you and your work and we always will!

Update: Clausen confirms on Twitter that the orchestra has also been fired. We now bring you an exclusive sneak peak of the new musical coordinator for Seasons 29 and 30:

Update 2: In a move that shows they’ve learned the importance of weaseling out of things, the show has released a very weaselly statement:

“We tremendously value Alf Clausen’s contributions to the Simpsons and he will continue to have an ongoing role in the show,” producers said in a statement provided to Deadline. “We remain committed to the finest in music for the Simpsons, absolutely including orchestral. This is the part where we would make a joke but neither Alf’s work nor the music of the Simpsons is treated as anything but seriously by us.”

It’s not clear what his ongoing role will be.

Jean tweeted out the link, so this is official. It’s also about as vague and non-specific as it’s possible to be in English. There’s nothing definite, no denial of the earlier report that Clausen and the orchestra are gone, and no concrete replacement offered. 

At best this could set the stage for a triumphant reunion like what happened with Shearer two years ago. More likely this is a cover-your-ass publicity move that doesn’t change a thing. 

28
Mar
15

Quote of the Day

Bart's Dog Gets an F11

“Look, Mom, I finished my patch!  It depicts the two greatest musical influences in my life.  On the left is Mr. Largo, my music teacher at school.  He taught me that even the noblest concerto can be drained of its beauty and soul.  And on the right is Bleeding Gums Murphy.  He taught me that music is like a fire in your belly that comes out of your mouth, so you better stick an instrument in front of it.” – Lisa Simpson

Happy birthday, Alf Clausen! 

28
Mar
14

Quote of the Day

Bart Sells His Soul11

“I’m really sorry, I kinda traded your soul to the guy at the comic book store.  But look, I got some cool Pogs: Alf Pogs.  Remember Alf?  He’s back!  In Pog form.” – Milhouse van Houten

Happy birthday Alf Clausen!

28
Mar
13

Quote of the Day

Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious5

♫“The nanny we want is kindly and sage . . .” – Lisa Simpson
“And one who will work for minimum wage.”♫ – Homer Simpson

Happy birthday Alf Clausen!

28
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Homer's Barbershop Quartet9

“Look what I got!  Now people will stop intentionally ramming our car.” – Marge Simpson
“Hmm, baby on board?  ‘Baby on board, something something Burt Ward’, this thing writes itself.” – Homer Simpson

Happy birthday Alf Clausen!




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