== SECTION IV - CAST, STAFF & PRODUCTION ==============================

4.1 - The Voice Actors

Who does what voice?

For a comprehensive list of character voices, please refer to The Simpsons Cast List found at /guides/castlist.html.

In addition, for a comprehensive list of all the celebrity guest stars, please refer to Simpsons Guest Stars found at /guides/gueststars.html.

I noticed that Old Money has voice credits, but none of the other episodes do. Why only one episode, and why that particular episode?

When the series began, FOX and the production staff wanted to keep the identities of the voice actors as much of a secret as possible. The reason was that so the characters could exist in their own world without people having the images spoiled by the voices coming out of real people. They did not publish photos and they closed most of the recording sessions. In the majority of Simpsons episodes, the voice credits are usually quite vague, consisting of "starring" and not much else.

According to the Season Two DVD commentary, the staff had become tired of people asking them who did what voice, presumably around the time that Old Money aired. So they decided to put full voiceover credits in the episode.

It is not fully known why it was done for just the one episode or why that particular episode was chosen. It may have simply been the next episode in the production order, and after the episode aired, the producers may have decided to revert to the usual crediting practices in order to be consistent with all of the previous episodes aired to date.

It seems to me that Homer's voice sounds different in early episodes. Did they change actors, or is it just my imagination?

When Dan Castellaneta originally began voicing Homer, he basically imitated Walter Matthau to get the voice. However, Dan reportedly had trouble with certain emotional registers and intonations with the voice, so beginning with Season Two, he changed it slightly to create its present sound. According to David Silverman, the episode Blood Feud is considered the point where Homer began to change into what it is now.

There are a few other characters who sound different in early episodes. Were all the same actors doing the voices?

Christopher Collins was the first voice of Mr. Burns, in Homer's Odyssey. He was also the original voice of Moe Syzlak, but his voiceover track for Moe in Some Enchanted Evening was replaced with Hank Azaria's when the episode had to be reanimated. Collins ended up providing the voice for host of "America's Most Armed and Dangerous" in that episode.

Collins left The Simpsons to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. Sadly, he died on June 12th, 1994 after a two-year illness.

Jo Ann Harris played some of the female and child roles early on, such as Wendell (the kid who vomits on the bus), Janey Hagstrom (Lisa's friend), and Todd Flanders.

Sometime during Season Eight or Nine, Karl Wiedergott began doing voices for minor male characters.

Why do some of the female characters sound different in recent episodes?

Prior to the 11th season, actress Maggie Roswell left the show after a contract dispute. She had reportedly been making only $1500 an episode, even after 10 years on the show. To add insult to injury, Roswell lived in Colorado and was being forced to commute to Los Angeles out of her own pocket.

The network offered her a measly $150 extra per episode, which wasn't even enough to cover the cost of air-fares. Roswell balked. "I wasn't asking for what the other cast members make," she said. "I just wanted to recoup all the costs I had in travel. If they'd flown me in, I'd still be working."

Roswell's departure ultimately led to the demise of Maude Flanders.

It was reported that Pamela Hayden had also threatened to leave, but was coaxed into staying on board.

Roswell eventually returned to the show in 2002, after presumably being offered a new and more favorable contract. During her absence, her characters were voiced by actress Marcia Mitzman-Gaven.

Is it true the entire cast was nearly fired and replaced?

Yes. In early 1998, the core cast of voices (excluding Julie Kavner) went into contract negotiations. FOX balked at their demands and at one point threatened to fire them all, going so far as to say that any college campus in America would have adequate replacements. Some of the actors were making a reported $12,000 an episode, which is hardly a wealthy sum in Hollywood considering that some live action actors on shows such as Friends and ER are getting $1 million per episode.

Eventually, FOX offered them all healthy raises and contract extensions, perhaps deciding that people would not watch if the voices were all changed. The cast's second Emmy win for "best voice-over performance" this year might be proof of that.

With the passing of Phil Hartman, will Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz have new voices?

No. Matt Groening has retired the characters out of respect for Phil, and another voice actor will not be supplying their voices in place of Mr Hartman.

Likewise, Lunchlady Doris has been retired out of respect for Doris Grau, who died in December 1995 following a battle with emphysema.

Another note - Actor Ron Taylor, who provided the voice of the late "Bleeding Gums" Murphy, passed away on January 18, 2002, following a heart attack. He was also known for the theatre production "It Ain't Nothing but the Blues", and for being the original voice of the plant on the Broadway production of "Little Shop of Horrors". He was believed to be 48.

Who plays the baritone saxophone for Lisa?

Terry Harrington. A short biography can be found here.

I heard that (so-and-so) was going to be on The Simpsons. Is that true?

Refer to the Upcoming Episodes page of The Simpsons Archive at /guides/upcoming.html for an up to date summary of upcoming Simpsons episodes and the guest stars slated to appear on them.

Why did Michael Jackson and Dustin Hoffman not use their real names?

Contractual agreements. Michael provided the voice of the mental patient, but he was not allowed by his record company to sing or to be credited as himself. The significance of the name "John Jay Smith" isn't known.

"Happy Birthday Lisa" is performed by Kipp Lennon, one of the many studio singers used on the show. Lennon also mimics Simon & Garfunkel on "The Sounds of Grandpa" (1F21) and B.J. Thomas on "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" (9F14).

Dustin Hoffman is credited as "Sam Etic", which is a play on the word "semitic."

After Michael Jackson's appearance in 7F24, Matt Groening made a rule that all future guest stars would be required to use their real names.

Which actors/celebrities have appeared on The Simpsons who are now deceased?

The Simpsons Archive has its own virtual obituary section located at /guides/departed.html.

It includes a comprehensive list of everyone associated with the show who has since passed on, whether they be a cast member, celebrity guest, or someone on the production staff. It also includes a list of deceased individuals referenced on the show, and a list of character deaths, as well.

May all their talented souls rest in peace.


4.2 - The Staff

How do I contact Matt Groening or the producers/writers of the show?

You can send your praises, questions, comments, sympathy cards, and love letters for Ian Maxtone-Graham to:

     The Simpsons
     c/o Twentieth Television
     Matt Groening's Office
     PO Box 900
     Beverly Hills, CA 90213

What about e-mail addresses?

If MG has an e-mail address, he has not made it public. Several of the writers and producers do have e-mail addresses, but they are not publically available and should not be given out as a matter of courtesy.

However, there is an e-mail address for questions and comments about Fox shows in general,

I have a script/story idea I want to show to the producers...

Unless you are a professional writer, don't bother.

Due to potential legal problems, the producers and writers aren't allowed to read unsolicited scripts or story materials, and so it is best not to bother them in the first place. Anything that you send will be rejected without consideration. This isn't because the writers are being snobs, it's because of union rules, the violation of which could cause people to get fired, or even sued.

If you are an aspiring television writer and have legitimate interest in writing for the show, the best advice we can give you is to get yourself an agent.

Those who write Simpsons scripts for fun are encouraged to send them into The Simpsons Archive for inclusion in the fanscripts section.

Who is Ian Maxtone-Graham, and why is he so disliked on the newsgroup?

Ian Maxtone-Graham is a staff writer and producer who has been with the show since the 8th season. His notoriety comes from a 1998 interview (found at /other/interviews/ian.html) where he admitted openly that he had never watched The Simpsons before being hired to write for it and could not give the names of many characters he was in charge of writing for, such as the Flanders children. This caused many Simpsons fans to question his credibility as a writer considering it was a show he didn't watch.

But it was his candid comments about internet fans in that same interview that really drew the ire of the newsgroup, as he referred to them as the "beetle-browed people of the internet," and making comments such as "that's why we are writing the show and they are watching it."

In retaliation, many a.t.s. denizens have resorted to calling him Ian "Haxtone-Graham".

It has definitely become mutual, as further swipes at a.t.s and the internet community have appeared in recent Simpsons episodes, usually involving the Comic Store Owner's use of the phrase "Worst Episode Ever."

Is The Simpsons' production staff aware of UseNet and a.t.s.?

Yes. Although Matt Groening has never appeared on the internet publically as himself (as far as anybody knows anyway), he has dropped several clues in references to certain discussion threads from a.t.s which appeared in his Life in Hell comic strips. His presence was finally confirmed by the December 7, 1994 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer which ran an article dealing with, in which MG admitted:

"I lurk [on a.t.s.] but the other writers on the show were reluctant to
have me admit that."

However, in June 1993, MG did accept an invitation from the Prodigy service to chitchat with their users, personally answer a few of those annoying standard questions, and detail the reality of his involvement with the show. In addition, cast members Yeardley Smith and Harry Shearer have done chat sessions on Lycos and AOL, respectively. Transcripts of some the chat sessions are available.

Other producers of the show have made brief appearances on the Internet and America Online, and the Simpsons drinking game has apparently circulated through the production offices, and seems to have been well received.

Have any of them actually posted to the newsgroup?

Bill Oakley (executive producer, Seasons Seven & Eight) openly posted to a.t.s. during the early/mid 1990s when few network executives and most Simpsons fans had little clue to what the internet was. His posts were usually in the form of giving upcoming episode spoilers to everyone. In fact, this helped inspire much of what The Simpsons Archive would become in that department.

The only cast members to post using their real names are Harry Shearer and Yeardley Smith. Smith made one post in 1994 regarding an interview someone had posted with her to the group, basically thanking them for the task and for the interest in her career. Shearer made a series of posts in March 1998 about the then ongoing contract negotiations between the voice actors and the network. In each of these cases, the nature of the posts made them widely believed to be authentic.

Composer Alf Clausen and music editor Bob Beecher have posted information on the soundtrack albums when they were about to be released.

It was also found that Mike Scully posted to a.t.s. anonymously using the e-mail address "". It is now defunct, so don't think about sending him your suggestions.

Regardless, any post appearing to originate from a member of the Simpsons production staff or cast should be met with considerable skepticism. It is remotely possible, though unlikely, that some members of the cast and staff do post anonymously.

Why is John Frink's name in the opening credits? I thought that was the nerdy scientist's name. Is it a joke?

John Frink is a staff writer and producer for The Simpsons. The name is not a coincidence; the professor character was in fact named after him before he joined the staff; he was a friend of former writers Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky.

It was originally thought by some that maybe the writers were simply playing another joke on the audience by having a character receive a production credit.

What is Matt Groening's favorite episode? What about cast members? Writers? Directors?

As quoted:

MG has actually published a list of his Top 10, which is available at /other/articles/sofdreams.html.

What are the known cast and staff birth dates/places?

Matt Groening:
Born February 15, 1954 in Beaverton, Oregon.
Some sources incorrectly use the 14th.

David Silverman:
Born March 15, 1957 in New York, New York.

Dan Castellaneta:
Born September 10, 1958 in Chicago, Illinois.

Julie Deborah Kavner:
Born September 7, 1951 in Los Angeles, California.

Nancy Campbell Cartwright:
Born October 25, 1959 in Kettering, Ohio.

Martha Maria Yeardley Smith:
Born July 3, 1964 in Paris, France.
Raised predominantly in suburban Washington, D.C.

Hank Albert Azaria:
Born April 25, 1964 in Forest Hills, Queens, New York.

Harry Shearer:
Born Tom Lewis, on December 23, 1943 in Los Angeles, California.

I heard a member of No Doubt quit to work on The Simpsons. Is that true?

Yes. No Doubt's founding member, keyboardist Eric Stefani (brother of lead vocalist Gwen), left the band in 1994 shortly after their second release, The Beacon Street Collection. This turn of events happened when Eric became disillusioned and frustrated by constraints put upon his songwriting by Interscope Records' producers. Rather than compromise his music, he turned to his other love -- drawing -- and began work as an animator for The Simpsons.

No Doubt went on to bigger and better things without Eric by their side, starting with their first big hit, "Just a Girl" in 1995. However, Eric continues to assist the band with songwriting from time to time, and is in and out of the animation business.

What does a consulting producer do and what does a supervising producer do?

For The Simpsons, a consulting producer is a writer. The supervising producer is the one who really is a producer. Most of the "producers" credited at the start of each show are the writers for the show. The writer who came up with the story idea or outline for the episode is credited as "writer" and the other writers who added to the script are listed as "producers."

How many staff members are Harvard alums?

21, past and present, including current executive producers Al Jean and Mike Reiss.

A list of all Simpsons writers with Harvard ties, as well as a list of all Ivy League references made on the show, can be found at /guides/ivy.html.

Ian Maxtone-Graham went to Brown.


4.3 - Production

How is a Simpsons episode created?

Production on a given season begins in December, when the writers go to one of two "writers' retreats" to pitch and develop approximately 16 story ideas, which end up developed into about 12 scripts. Episodes from Season One were often animated with about 12,000 drawings. The number gradually increased to about 24,000 drawings.

A much more detailed look at the process can be found at /guides/making.html.

Who creates the animation for the show?

Film Roman Inc. of Los Angeles has been in charge of animating The Simpsons since Season Four.

I heard that the animation is done primarily by computer now. Is that true?

No, although computers do play a part in the production process.

The show has maintained its hand-drawn style of character animation, but has done away with the traditional hand-painting of cels. The coloring process now uses computer digital ink and paint technology to render the characters and their backgrounds.

This was confirmed recently by David Silverman:
"Yes, it's digital coloring only, no computer animation. At times we've used computer assistance, for mechanical things (the spaceship in Deep Space Homer, the weird butterfly in the chili episode, the NYC background pull-out at the end of the New York show), but I've haven't seen it used much these days. Still drawn the old fashion way."

Why did the animation change from Klasky-Csupo to Film Roman?

Originally, Gabor Csupo became unhappy with the show's decision to bring in new producers for the fourth season. Klasky-Csupo also decided that it wanted to pool all its resources behind Nickelodeon's RugRats, because K-C owned and controlled all facets of RugRats' production, unlike The Simpsons, where FOX brought in its own people. Csupo wanted to work on a show where his company was in complete control.

David Silverman suggested that Film Roman hire ex-Simpsons animators laid off by K-C.

A press release appeared in the L.A. Times in January 1992; you can read the article at /other/articles/animfirms.html.

How much does it cost to produce one episode?

Approximately US$1 million.

How long does it take?

Typically, one episode of The Simpsons takes six to eight months to produce, from start to finish. This includes writing, re-writing, voice recording, storyboards, animatics, coloring (which is done in Korea), music scoring, and post-production. Obviously, several episodes are in different stages of production at any given time, possibly as many as ten.

I see people using numbers like "9F07" to refer to episodes. What does this mean?

These are the production code numbers given to each and every episode of The Simpsons. The numbers (7G08, 9F15, 2F22, AABF01 etc.) refer to the production code assigned by the production team. Each episode has its own p-code which refers to the season which it was produced for, but not necessarily the one it was broadcast in. Some episodes are usually held over for broadcasting early the following season (e.g. 7F24 was actually the Season Three opener). Note that the number of episodes held over has slowly been increasing - which helps provides "insurance" for the following season should a strike of any kind occur and reduces the rush to produce new episodes for the new season. So the number held over has increased from two or three to seven or eight episodes.

As a general rule of thumb:

  • 7G codes refer to Season One episodes
  • 7F codes refer to Season Two episodes
  • 8F codes refer to Season Three episodes
  • 9F codes refer to Season Four episodes
  • 1F codes refer to Season Five episodes
  • 2F codes refer to Season Six episodes
  • 3F codes refer to Season Seven episodes
  • 3G codes refer to special episodes commissioned during Season Seven
  • 4F codes refer to Season Eight episodes
  • 5F codes refer to Season Nine episodes
  • AABF codes refer to Season Ten episodes
  • BABF codes refer to Season Eleven episodes
  • CABF codes refer to Season Twelve episodes
  • DABF codes refer to Season Thirteen episodes
  • EABF codes refer to Season Fourteen episodes
  • FABF codes refer to Season Fifteen episodes
  • GABF codes refer to Season Sixteen episodes
  • HABF codes refer to Season Seventeen episodes
  • JABF codes refer to Season Eighteen episodes
  • KABF codes refer to Season Nineteen episodes
  • LABF codes refer to Season Twenty episodes
  • MABF codes refer to Season Twenty-One episodes
  • NABF codes refer to Season Twenty-Two episodes

For example, the episode Last Exit to Springfield carries the production code "9F15". The 9F refers to the season it was produced for (fourth) and the 15 refers to the fact that it was the 15th episode produced for the fourth season. It does not mean it was the 15th episode aired during that season. "I" was skipped to avoid confusion; we wait to see if "O" will be skipped!

The p-codes do not appear to be actual hexadecimal numbers. James L. Brooks said he got the idea for the Season One codes for The Simpsons from the fact that Homer works in sector 7G at SNPP.

A complete analyses of these codes can be found in Matt Garvey's wonderful Your Guide to Production Codes which can be found at /guides/pcodes.html. If it's simply a list of Simpsons p-codes and episodes your after however please consult the Episode QuickList found at /guides/ql.html.

Where are the production codes seen?

Watch the closing credits to each episode. The credit page with the copyright information (usually the fifth page from the end) contains the line "THE SIMPSONS EPISODE #____", which is the p-code for that episode, with the exception of 7G08 where the p-code immediately follows the copyright notification. The p-codes for the music videos are found on special unbroadcasted title cards identifying it for TV station personnel.

Why do the production codes in Season Six jump from 2F22 to 2F31? And what about 3F31 in Season Seven?

The current production staff at The Simpsons has only enough resources to put together roughly 23 episodes a season. However, for Season Six an arrangement was made with the staff of The Critic to produce two additional episodes. Those two episodes (A Star Is Burns and 'Round Springfield) were given the p-codes 2F31 and 2F32.

When Fox demanded the production of 25 episodes per season, from 1994 to 1996, the arrangement was 24 new shows and 1 clip show.

For Season Six, a former writer was called in at the last minute to hack together 2F33, even going so far as to use a pseudonym - 'Penny Wise' (implying that Fox is 'Pound Foolish' of course!) - and so the episode was given the highest p-code available to distance it from the other episodes. Similarly, the Season Seven clip show was designated as 3F31 - and this time 'Pound Foolish' was even named as the director!

Season Nine saw The Simpsons' fourth clip show, All Singing, All Dancing (5F24).

David Silverman admitted to using the alias 'Pound Foolish' as director of 3F31. He also directed 2F33, Another Simpsons Clip Show.

Why did they use 3G01-3G04 for four episodes instead of extending the "3F" sequence?

Those four episodes were produced separately from the main batch by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, as opposed to Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein who produced the rest of Season Seven. These shows were given the 3G codes to reflect this.

Why did Matt Groening remove his name from the credits of episode 2F31?

MG asked that his name be removed from the credits to A Star Is Burns because he felt the episode was one very long commercial for The Critic, and that it creates the image that the two shows are somehow linked together, which of course isn't the case.

Where are the episode titles seen?

Some newspapers print the episode titles. The book Simpson Mania lists Season One titles; Brian Howard was able to get "inside" information for Season Two and Three titles. Season Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight titles were provided by David Mirsky, and later by Bill Oakley. Episodes 7G07 and 7F10 were actually broadcast with their titles. The titles for the shorts are listed in the credits to The Tracey Ullman Show. The music video titles are, of course, taken from their song titles.

At this time, new episode titles seem to be obtained through inside sources related to the series and the network.

I see that 7G11 has three different titles. Which one is official, and if/when were the other two used? and the L.I.S.A. have chosen to acknowledge "Life on the Fast Lane" as 7G11's official title.

"Bjorn to be Wild" was the episode's original, working title. Marge's love interest in the episode, voiced by Albert Brooks, was meant to be Swedish, and he had been given the name Bjorn. However, Brooks had a great deal of difficulty with the Swedish accent, so it was decided to make the character French.

Since Bjorn isn't very French, the character was renamed Jacques. Because of this, the title no longer made sense, so it had to be changed. At that time the episode may have temporarily been dubbed "Jacques to be Wild", until the producers came up with a completely new title altogether.

"Life on the Fast Lane" is the title used on the Season One DVD set, the videotape collections, the book Simpson Mania, and other official documents, compilations and published materials, so we believe that this title is indeed official.

Notice how Jacques loses his French accent when he orders onion rings.

How come Halloween episodes don't follow established continuity?

The Treehouse of Horror series is, according to MG, non-canonical and as such the writers can do whatever they choose. Examples of this include putting Mr. Burns' country home in Pennsylvania, having the family appear to have long forked tongues, or giving Bart a twin brother named Hugo.

Aren't there other episodes that don't follow established continuity?

In recent years we're also seen additional examples of intentionally non-canonical episodes, often following the same structure of three separate stories as in The Treehouse of Horror series. This includes "Behind the Laughter" (BABF19), "Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times" (JABF05), "Love, Springfieldian Style" (KABF05) and "Four Great Women and a Manicure" (LABF09). Of course we've also witnessed other moments in episodes we wish were non-canonical.

Why was EABF05 referred to as the 300th episode? I counted it as the 302nd.

EABF05 was billed by FOX as the series' 300th episode because it was considered to be the 300th episode produced. However, FOX does not count the Christmas Special pilot towards that total. So technically, EABF05 was actually the 301st.

FOX was very adamant about airing the "300th" episode on the same day as the Daytona 500 auto race, which is one of the biggest ratings draws of the year for the network, so they pushed the air date back to February 16th. So when the episode finally did air, it was actually the 302nd to do so (Christmas special included), even though FOX was hyping it up as #300.

To further add to the confusion, all previous milestone episodes (100th, 138th, 200th, 250th) were based on airing order rather than production order, and with the Christmas special included. Going on that convention, EABF04 was the 300th episode to air, which is what our Episode Guide at /episodeguide.html has chosen to reflect.

Lest one think that FOX ignores all this, this episode contained the following self-reference;

   Marge: "I can't count how many times your father's done something crazy like this."
   Lisa (takes out counter and adds one to reach 300): "It's 300, Mom."
   Marge: "I've could have sworn it was 302."

Why was GABF10 referred to as the 350th episode? I counted it as the 351st.

Episode GABF10 opening included a caption that said it was the 350th episode. The original idea was for "The Heartbroke Kid" to be the 350th episode, but when the death of Pope John Paul II caused the premiere of "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star" to be delayed, Fox made the switch to this episode. Note that Fox never explains how this episode is number 350, but they did plan to air the 350th on the same day as the return of new episodes of Family Guy and the premiere (not counting the episode that aired after the Super Bowl) of American Dad!. So once again, this can count as the 350th if you ignore the Christmas special, but bottom line here is that Fox wants to choose the episode and date to celebrate and promote the anniversary so a little creative accounting on their part can always explain choosing a particular episode. Since anniversaries prior to the 300th always reflecting the order episodes were aired our our Episode Guide (at /episodeguide.html) reflects this as episode 351. (Analyses credit to Don Del Grande!)

Why was JABF14 referred to as the 400th episode? I counted it as the 399th.

Do we perchance note a pattern here? Yes indeed, JABF14 was the 399th episode. It was planned as the series' 400th episode, to appear immediately following JABF15, but Fox decided to premiere this episode at its usual time instead of 30 minutes later, turning it into the 399th episode. We of course reflect the correct sequence in our our Episode Guide at /episodeguide.html (Analyses credit to Don Del Grande!)

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