'Simpsons' exec producer Al Jean on renewal: 'This isn't an end but a beginning' -- EXCLUSIVE

Homer-Simpson-Jean

Image Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Fox

Crack open those cans of Duff beer: The Simpsons is staying on TV. After a public round of negotiations between the voice actors and the show’s studio, 20th Century Fox TV, Fox announced on Friday afternoon that the venerable animated comedy has been renewed for two additional years, bringing its run to at least 25 seasons and -- holy Homer! -- 559 episodes. “In the words of Mark Twain: Woo Hoo! Two more seasons!” Simpsons exec producer Al Jean summed up to EW. “Our mood is elation, mixed with a sense of ‘Man, we've got a lot of work to do.’ Believe me, we don’t look at this as these will definitely be the last two [seasons]

. We just want to keep fighting and go as long as we can…. We really feel this isn’t an end but a beginning. It’s a cliché, but it’s the truth.”

Jean had certainly been hopeful that the series would return beyond this season, but he was realistic about the financial realities of the business during this last round of contract talks. “Negotiations are like a baseball game: You never know how it’s going to turn out,” he says. “I thought it could be [the end], because everything comes to an end at some point. And I’ve always felt that whenever the end comes, it’ll be for economic reasons. 20th was hoping to get an economic model for the show that could allow it to continue for two or more seasons, and that’s what we’ve got.” (Jean and other sources close to the show deny reports that there was any scenario of bringing back Homer & Co. for just one season.)

While the show’s budget had been reduced over the last few seasons, costs needed to be shaved even more this time around. During negotiations this fall for the cast’s new contract — their current deal expires at the end of this season — the voice actors were asked to take a significant salary cut, which they ultimately did. Producers also are accepting less money this time around. Jean won’t comment on the specifics of the deal, other than to note that there were “reductions all over the budget,” and that there weren’t any talks of replacing the cast (“Either they came back or we wouldn’t do the show.) “They understand that the world we live in is different in many ways from 2007,” he says, adding, “Everybody loves this show and realizes it’s the greatest job in the world, and they want to keep doing it. [Executive producer] Jim Brooks, [creator] Matt Groening, and I had one-on-one talks with the cast, and that was the unanimous view.” As for that statement released on Friday morning by Harry Shearer, the voice of Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders, that the actors deserved to share in the show’s bountiful profits, Jean says, “I’ll let it speak for itself, though my personal view is the actors are extremely valuable. They are brilliant, they are the characters, which means they possess an irreplaceable commodity. And because of that, they deserve to participate in the success of the show, and I think they do.”

It’s likely that the series will include a meta joke about all of these recent ‘End of The Simpsons?’ headlines, perhaps in the opening minute. (Jean is still beaming about last week’s trippy couch gag, courtesy of Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi: “The only thing we told him was, ‘Break all our rules,’ which he did gleefully.”) And the producers are putting together a special promo to air on Fox to thank fans for their vocal support. “The silver lining is that people cared,” says Jean. “The viewers are obviously the reason this has happened.”

Given the possibility that Homer and Marge could have bicycled off into the sunset for good, does the idea of the show ending feel more real at Simpsons HQ? Are they starting to figure out how they’ll eventually wrap up the show? Not quite. “It’s hard to think of the end,” responds Jean. “We got a two-year pickup. I mean, that’s as long a pickup as any show on the air.” That said, he believes episodes like season 11’s “Behind the Laughter” or season 19’s “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind” could have made for fine finales. “Every year, we have a couple where I go, ‘Oh, that would have been a great one,’” he shares. “I don’t think we’re a serialized show and I don’t think we’re going to have a Lost finale where we reveal some truth about the world that nobody ever suspected. Whenever we do a last episode, we just hope that it would be sweet, true to the characters, funny, and give you a nice feeling for where the Simpsons would be headed.”

And if The End isn’t near, exactly how many seasons do Jean & Co. want to make? Thirty? Forty? “I honestly think that 30 is a goal to shoot for. I want to put The Simpsons at 30 seasons before the end of the decade,” he quips, nodding to John F. Kennedy’s moon speech. “Forty sounds insane, but 25 sounded insane 20 years ago. Having seen how far it’s gone, it’s not for me to cap it…. And Gunsmoke did 635 episodes [a record for a prime-time series], so that’s something to shoot for, too.” Not that he’s downplaying the magnitude of Friday’s big announcement. “When the show turned 21, it could drink,” he says. “And now when we turn 25, we can rent a car!”

Twitter: @dansnierson

Read more:
‘The Simpsons’ renewed by Fox for two more seasons

‘Simpsons’ actor breaks silence, says Fox should share profits

10 things we learned about ‘The Simpsons’ at Comic-Con

Comments (138 total) Add your comment
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  • Eddie Dalton

    I hope that they finally cancel The Simpsons. They are really dragging it on now.

    • lee

      theres no serialized story so how are they “dragging it on” theres nothing to “drag”

      • Kate

        Right, you either like the show or you don’t. You can’t hate the story or the arc, cuz there’s pretty much a different one for each episode.

      • jack

        My best friend has just announced her wedding with a great man who is a cele+brity!
        They met-via { millionaireluv^’c”o,m }
        It is nice club for rich men or pretty girls mate.
        You do not need to be wealthy or famous, but you can meet your true love, it’s worthy a try.

      • Laundry

        I’m also thrilled. The show continues to be great. Small changes like Edna dating Ned give it renewed life.

        I hope they at least beat Gunsmoke’s record in terms of number of episodes.

      • Tracy C

        Exactly-it’s a great show and if you don’t like it-shuttitup!

      • Grumpster

        eff off there jack and your crapola site. As for Simpons, tax Mr. Burns and spread the wealth to Moe and Barney…and accidentally forget Homer.

    • Shecky

      Maybe you didn’t read the piece, Eddie. It seems that they just renewed the show. Your opinion somehow didn’t factor into the decision-making process.

    • Mitch Logan

      They hope you get fired too.

    • jj

      why dont YOU just shut your Yapper A**hole!!! Bahahahahahaha!

    • Tom

      Here we go with the “It hasn’t been good in ten years” from people who haven’t seen it in ten years!

    • Anonymously So

      Comparing to all the crappy shows on AIR right now … the Simpsons look like a FINE GEM to me!

    • Ted C

      Eddie, how does The Simpsons still being made negatively impact your life?

  • IMO

    I haven’t watched the show in years. I enjoyed it as a child but just got tired of the characters and stories.
    When a show is no longer in syndication, I think that is a clue that the ot needs to end. Family Guy is more entertaining and a much better cartoon comedy.

    • Channing

      No longer in syndication? What TV market do you live in where you can’t find ‘The Simpsons’ on one of the local channels at least once a day, if not twice (or more)?

    • Ryan

      It is in syndication all over the US and internationally. What on Earth are you talking about?

      • Laundry

        He must live on one of those tiny South Pacific islands.

      • skeeter

        Eddie lives in Springfield.

    • Jack

      Okay, who let Seth MacFarlane on the site?

    • Tommaayy!!

      I believe the Simpsons are in syndication ON MARS!

  • youtube.com/SUPPORTOUTBREAK3

    Yea, the show should have ended a while ago. I use to watch it every sunday, but the show isn’t that funny anymore. They ran out of ideas.

    • Du

      If you don’t watch the show anymore, how do you know how funny it is?

  • Aidan

    Gotta love the Simpsons, but they honestly stopped being funny when the 90s ended.

  • Tyrone Wilkenshire

    I agree with most here, I stopped watching The Simpsons in 1999 and it was dumb then. I tried to watch an episode or 2 every year since but kept vomiting in my mouth. I can NOT believe it lasted this long, this horse was beaten to death years ago, buried 6 feet deep, then pissed on for good measure, only to be resurrected every dam year. For the love of god please let it END!

    • Du

      If you haven’t really watched the show since 1999, then you should really STFU. Seriously. Do you go on message threads talking about how much you hate a restaurant that you don’t go to?

      The Simpsons remains the best comedy on television. It is my favorite show and I am elated to have at least two more seasons.

      • graeme

        I agree its not like classic episodes anymore but. Still funny what is the main thing , but season 1 to 10 , are the best and never get Feb up with re runs

      • Ashish Khanal

        Thank you for Shutting those unappreciating morons coz to me too The Simpsons is my best comedy show ever.I just hope they reach season 40 and watch HILARIOUS Homer’s stupidity and Bart pranks.

    • John

      If you don’t watch it…then why do you care if it still continues to air (or not)? After all, you don’t watch it, right? So, keep not watching it. Doesn’t effect you either way, does it?

  • Mr. Random

    FOX… just let them go.

  • OUTraged

    This is awful news!…they need to go away!…>_>

    • Du

      What’s your favorite show? I only ask so that I can go troll on a news story about it and talk about how I want it to be canceled. (Even though, of course, whether or not YOUR favorite show is canceled has no bearing on my life whatsoever).
      Geez, jerks, just don’t want it if you don’t like it! I don’t like Family Guy, so guess what—I DON’T WATCH IT! If you want to, be my guest.

  • WHYULITTLE

    Dude seriousely the Simpsons are not even that funny anymore nor do they need to keep paying these super rich voice over stars any more money. End the show now! but NO WE GET 2 more years which is just in my mind over kill. What happens when no one finds the Simpsons funny anymore? or when they run out of ideas? It would be an embarrassement for everyone involved. So stop why u are semi ahead is what I say, and give those new cartoons a chance to shine. YEAAH Cleavland, and Peter!

  • John

    Matt Groening has now become a greedy fat turd who doesnt care about quality and just wants money. I hope 25 is the last season otherwise I’ll be pissed

    • deedeedragons

      *Futurama, cough, cough*

      • Mike

        They took pay cuts to continue show. Obviously they don’t care just about the money.

  • Jon

    I still like it and apparently so do a lot of others fans, if you don’t like it anymore there is a simple solution don’t watch. How does it bother you if its still on the air?

    • Mike

      The Simpsons’ producers could raise the dead or blow up a building and people would STILL say how it’s not funny anymore. Get over it, don’t watch, stop reading the headlines if you don’t care for the show.

      • Laundry

        Yes, people started saying it wasn’t as good as it used to be in about 1991 or so.

  • Aidan Williams

    This is great news, i cant wait to see the new seasons. A big thanks to the Cast & The Producers.

    • Laundry

      Aidan’s post is the only post that needs to be here!

      • skeeter

        Second.

  • Guy

    To me this is great news because they most likely would put another of Seth McFarlanes shows on instead. And if there is anything that isn’t funny it’s Family Guy, Family American Guy, and Family Black Guy.

    • Anonymously So

      Exactly. Those shows basically tried to replicate The Simpsons in a trashy way!

  • Rachel

    Can’t wait for more Simpsons thanks for letting a classic go on! =)

  • j c

    People should try watching the show from time to time. Sure it will never again reach its peak, but the simpsons can still put out good episodes.

    Last weeks episode where Bart bonded with superintendent schalmers was a great episode with a lot of laughs and a big heart. And the episode before it with Keifer Sutherland was also pretty darn funny and had a nice story.

    Sure the show can have some bad episodes (like the 90s show flashback, ick). But it is still worth checking out every Sunday Night.

    • Mike

      What was wrong with the 90s flashback show, sure it killed the continuity but an amusing episode

      • L.J

        Mike, you are waaay too invested in a cartoon show man.If you are so pathetic that 900 Simpsons episodes aren’t enough for you then you need alot of help.

      • Du

        Retcon, man.
        (I liked it, too. How awesome was it that Weird Al did a parody of Homer’s Nirvana parody?)

  • Alice

    “We just want to keep fighting and go as long as we can…”

    now i see

    • soliz rael

      im sick of FOX i love the simpsons
      i got a idea, matt make a network
      and south park can be on there to
      shows dont have to end… nah i
      rather have it on FOX i just don’t
      want it to end

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