Matt Groening

© Prodigy, June 1993.
Subject: mg speaks
Date: Sat, 05 Jun 1993 14:48:33 GMT
Apparently, Prodigy(tm) got Matt Groening to make an electronic appearance and answer a few questions (of course, I missed it--D'oh!)

What follows are Matt's responses. I haven't included the questions, as in most cases they are either obvious or Matt includes them as the first line of his answer. They are organized in alphabetical order by the Subject, which all start with Matt or Matt's.

It's true, 15 minutes was how long it took for me to design 
the look of the Simpsons family.                            
Now, as I've said in countless interviews, Lisa, Maggie,    
Marge and Homer are all named after members of my family.   
But I also have another sister Patty and a brother Mark, who
I haven't humiliated by naming characters after them.       
Matt Groening                                               

TO: JODI WAY (HSGJ88C) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON AGE" Jodi, Will we let Bart, Lisa and Maggie grow up? No. One of the great things about animation is that your characters don't have to age. Bart's had his 10th birthday on the show three times already. We know we'll never have one of those 25th year reunion shows where viewers tune in to see their old favorites look like heavily powdered cadavers. Matt Groening
TO: JEFF HONG (XSJB29B) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON ANI 2" Jeff, How much person to person contact do I have with the Simpsons animators? I work on the 20th Century Fox lot, and the animation studio is 45 minutes away, in North Hollywood, so most of our communication is by fax or by phone. I visit the animation studio, ideally, once a week. I've got to say that it's much more fun to visit the animators, because they're a lot happier than TV comedy writers. Matt Groening
TO: BRIAN HART (KJNW68A) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON ANIMATION" Brian, You asked about how an idea becomes an episode of The Simpsons. Briefly, three or four times a year, The Simpsons writing staff gets together in a hotel room, the idea being that we're away from distracting phone calls, and we throw out notions, ideas and outlines for upcoming shows. All the writers throw in contributions, which is one of the reasons why the show takes as many peculiar zig-zags as it does. Once the story is approved to everyone's satisfaction, we bang a small gong. (This is true!) Then, generally, the writer who pitched the idea goes off and writes a first draft, which goes through anywhere from one to three revisions. Then we have the actors sit down and read through the script, while the writers make check marks by the lines that get laughs. We retreat to the re-write room, and spend a couple of days working on the script again. Then, on the following Monday, we read the script through one more time with the actors, after which most of the writers disappear back into the rewrite room and tighten it up, while the actors spend the rest of the day recording the script. Then the animators get ahold of the final script; characters and backgrounds are designed, and the director works with storyboard artists to storyboard the entire show. Matt Groening.
TO: DAVID BEKERMAN (FCDC41C) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON ANTHRAX" David, There are no plans to put Anthrax on The Simpsons at the moment, but I've heard rumors of an animated Saturday morning show, "Anthrax Babies." Matt Groening
TO: JONATHAN YOUNG (FFVH62A) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON CONAN" Jonathan, I ran into Conan O'Brien yesterday, who now has to hide out because he's become so funny. I'm glad to report that he's still funny, and I expect his new show to be funny as well. No one who's worked with Conan has any doubts that he can pull this off. He's one of the funniest guys I've ever met. Matt Groening
TO: THOMAS MCALISTER (MGXD66B) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON DAD" Tom, I'd like to clear the record here. Yes, my father's name is Homer, but he is not bald, fat, or all that stupid. Nor does he have large bulging eyes, a grotesque overbite or a compulsive beer drinking disorder. He does like doughnuts, however. Matt Groening
TO: BRUCE LIVESEY 2ND (RDNN84A) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON DRAWING" Bruce, I've been drawing in the same simple style since I was in the 6th grade. One of my big inspirations was Charles Schulz's Peanuts comics, which taught me that you can express a wide range of emotion just by altering the shapes of the characters eyes. Matt Groening
TO: G YADA IV I (TKBV53E) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON ELFMAN" Amber, You asked how Danny Elfman was chosen to write the theme song for The Simpsons. I've been a big fan of Danny's since I watched him in the late 70s when he performed with the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, a bizarre, Cab Callowayesque theatrical revue. I'm also a big fan of his film scoring, particuarly his soundtrack for Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. I also used to be a rock critic of sorts, and I'm not proud to say that I once panned him badly eough that he actually wrote a disgruntled letter to the editor. When we had our first meeting about him possibly writing the theme I was hoping he wouldn't remember, but he did. He also forgave me because I had done a number of comic strips that skewered rock critics they way he though they should be skewered. Matt Groening
TO: NANCY LEIPHART (CMGN76A) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON HARRY" Nancy, You're right--Harry Shearer does provide the voice for Rev. Lovejoy, Ned Flanders and the school principal. He also does nuclear power plant owner Montgomery Burns, his assistant Smithers, newscaster Kent Brockman and lots of other minor characters. Matt Groening
TO: CHARLES THOMSON (NBFJ35A) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON HELL" Charles, Life in Hell is one of the animation projects that I would love to do as a TV series. There's been some talk, but nothing's in the works. Matt Groening
TO: KEVIN KELLY (JHNX68A) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON HOMER FOOD" Kevin, Hmmm. My two favorite foods mentioned on The Simpsons are Microwave Seafood Burittos and Heat-Lamp Dogs, which are both available at the Kwik-E-Mart. Matt Groening
TO: JIM MARTIN (FRFJ70A) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON ITCHY" Jim, A regular half-hour version of Itchy and Scratchy? Fans think they want to see more than the 10 to 20 seconds of Itchy and Scratchy that we put on the show, but my feeling is less is more. Once you've skinned and flayed a cat, ripped his head off, made him drink acid and tied his tongue to the moon, there really isn't that much to say. Matt Groening
TO: BRANDON FUHRMANN (WBRB05B) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON MAGGIE" Brandon, Will Maggie ever speak again? We have no plans for that to ever happen again, unless we can get Elizabeth Taylor back as a regular. Matt Groening
TO: JULIE SMITH (TPMM59C) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON MARGE" Julie Why does Marge stay with Homer? She thinks if she murmurs in annoyance often enough, maybe Homer will change. Matt Groening
TO: GREGORY STERN (TSHV05B) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON MOVIE" Greg, Will there be a Simpsons movie one day? Maybe. But right now, we're just trying to get through next season's scripts. The movie is way down the line. Matt Groening
TO: ANDY BLACK (TSXX15C) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON SIMPS LP" Andy, The second Simpsons album as originally called "The Simpsons Summer of Love" and was due in record stores last summer. Since then, we've been tinkering with the album, and have changed the title to "The Yellow Album." I guess we're too late this year to call it "The Simpsons Summer of Love." The record will be out by the end of the year. Matt Groening
TO: RICHARD HONEY (SHRH80B) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON SPINOFF" Richard, You asked about a Simpsons spin-off that you heard was in the works. The show you're referring to is called "The Critic", and it was created by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, executive producers of The Simpsons. I have nothing to do with the show, but I understand it's about a New York film critic, played by Jon Lovitz. Matt Groening
TO: KENNETH JONES (DVVP38B) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON VIDEOS" Kenny, No doubt Fox will milk Simpsons fans for all they can get somewhere down the line, but at the point, there are no plans for Simpsons videos or laserdiscs in the immediate future. However, I would love to do laserdiscs, complete with deleted scenes and additional commentary. Matt Groening
TO: ANNDI LYNN (MBDF67C) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT ON VOICES" Anndi, The reason we use adults to record the voices for the Simpsons is that grown-ups are generally better actors than kids are, and it's legal to get drunk with them after the show. (G) Matt Groening
TO: ALL FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT SAYS THANKS!" Hey, thanks everybody for all your questions. If we weren't in the middle of production on shows for next season, I'd hang around to answer more. But right now, we're working on a script in which Apu ends up living with the Simpsons, and I've got to run back to work. But I'll be back! Matt Groening
TO: DAMIAN KOLODIY (VBKS90B) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT'S ADVICE" Damian, How to get started as a cartoonist? I suggest that you try to get your cartoons seen by other people at whatever level you can. I started out cartooning for my high school and college newspapers, and drawing and xeroxing my own comic book in my early adult years. I lucked out by getting a weekly comic strip in the L.A. Reader, which was a great forum for experimentation. If you can get your stuff into print, in a school paper or your local weekly, that's the best way to go. Matt Groening
TO: ROBERT W IVEY III (GXRC96C) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT'S ALTER EGO" Robert, The Simpsons character I'd most like to be would be Lisa, because I have the feeling that when she grows up, she'll escape Springfield and her family. Matt Groening
TO: RICH STUART (JHPD29B) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT'S BEGINNING" Rich, You asked how I got started drawing comics. My father was one of those single panel gag cartoonists of the 1950s. He drew the kinds of cartoons that had guys standing in bars making disparaging comments. I got my start self publishing "Life in Hell" comics in 1977. The L.A. Reader picked it up in 1980, and then, in 1985, I got a call from producer James L. Brooks about trying my hand on animation on some undefined future project. In 1987 The Tracey Ullman Show came along, and Jim Brooks gave me my first break. Matt Groening
TO: GEORGE PLAUTZ (WMCH48A) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT'S FAVE" George, I have three favorite episodes of the Simpsons; 1. From the first season, when Lisa met her jaz mentor "Bleeding Gums" Murphy; 2. From year two, when Marge protested against the violence in Itchy and Scratchy cartoons; 3. "A Streetcar Named Marge" from this season, when Marge made her singing stage debut. Matt Groening
TO: DAVE EISNER (GCHV39C) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT'S INVOLVEMENT" Dave, You asked about the extent of my involvement in The Simpsons. The show is the collaborative efforts of a bunch of brilliant writers, actors and animators. Those credits you see every week are deserved. We have a full-time staff of really creative writers who are working at this very moment while I'm sitting here answering your questions. These days, I try to poke my head in at various stages of the animation process, from writing to the final editing and sound mixing, but a project this complicated and involved works only because we have lots and lots of talented people working thir butts off. I could disappear off the face of the earth and the show would go along just fine, but I think my contributions may add a chuckle here and there. Matt Groening
TO: ROBERT W IVEY III (GXRC96C) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT'S LOOKS" Robert, What do I look like? I've been mistaken more than once for Stephen King, Leonard Maltin has been mistaken for me, but I think I look more like a bearded hippie verson of Homer Simpson. Matt Groening
TO: STEVEN HANSON (HMTX59A) FROM: MATT GROENING (STAR99C) SUBJECT: "MATT'S NEXT" Steven, I'm working on my next Life in Hell book, a sequel to the first, "Love is Hell," called "Binky's Guide to Love." I have a few other number of animated projects in various stages of development. I don't know which one is going to happen first. Matt Groening

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