From the “Biting The Hand That Feeds” file

Simpsons creator bashes Fox network, plots feature film debut
Last year, after an interviewer asked The Simpsons creator how long his animated juggernaut could go on, it was reported around the world that Homer was about to scarf down his last doughnut.
“All I said was we’re closer to the end than the beginning and since we started in 1987, I didn’t think we’d be on the air in 2030 or whatever. That’s all I meant,” Groening tells the Sun.
“But it looks like we’re going to be on forever. That’s my new line.”
The same isn’t true for his other cartoon comedy, the space-age Futurama, which never took off like its earthbound big brother.
Discussing the DVD of Futurama’s first season, Groening confirms that, while Fox still has a number of episodes in the bank, production has halted and the cast and crew have moved on.
For that, Groening squarely blames Fox.
“The people at Fox didn’t ever support the show and it wasn’t to their taste and, in my opinion, they’re out of their minds.
“But they don’t like The Simpsons either. The idea of a TV show that they haven’t gotten their greasy fingers all over creatively drives them nuts. That’s why almost everything else is so lousy. The groundbreaking shows, the ones that cause the most intense reaction, are not the result of too many cooks. It’s a strong, creator-driven vision.
“They just fired the guy who created The Bernie Mac Show. I’m sure that show is getting much, much better now. The fans loved (Futurama), but they couldn’t find it. It never got promoted. The fans delivered a petition with 130,000 signatures and there was no reaction from Fox.
“We won the Emmy for best animated show a few months ago and I didn’t even get a begrudging phone call from anyone at Fox. That’s a dark company that they can’t even make a fake phone call.”
And as any Simpsons fan knows, Groening and his writers relish the chance to mock the once-fledgling fourth network.
“I love the strength of The Simpsons — that we can get away with so much. They don’t like it. We took jabs at Fox News and we were told not to, so we decided to do it more.”
Certainly, Fox is in no position to threaten the series, which remains one of its most popular hits and has spawned a merchandising empire. Not bad for a series that was conceived in the late ’80s when James L. Brooks, who was producing The Tracey Ullman Show, hired Groening to create animated shorts for Ullman’s show.
After 48 shorts, The Simpsons went solo and became an instant sensation.
Many of the early episodes were penned by Groening and co-producer Sam Simon and, unlike many creators who abandon ship after the first few years, Groening remains very much involved with The Simpsons on a daily basis — whether it’s tinkering on toys, games and DVDS, or reading over scripts and giving input.
The show’s staff writers include several Canadians, including Joel Cohen, who hails from Calgary.
“Canadians are funny,” Groening says. “It’s surprising. Listen, my ancestors are from Norway, Russia and Holland — not areas of the world you associate with knee-slapping comedy.”
With The Simpsons recently renewed for at least two more seasons, it’s set to become the longest running comedy in television history.
Beyond the small screen, there’s also the much-rumoured Simpsons feature film, which Groening confirms he’s working on. “We’re talking about doing it. We just want to make sure, if we do, it doesn’t follow in the dismal footsteps of other currently-running TV shows turned into movies. I can only think of one that worked and that was South Park,” he says.
“You want to honour the fans of the show, but you want to give them a little more. With the TV show, every week it’s like a little movie. There are certainly enough incidents to fill a regular movie comedy. Whether people could stand it for an hour and a half, I don’t know.”