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Thousands of fans gathered Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Simpsons, the longest-running scripted series on U.S. primetime television.
Bongo Comics co-founder Bill Morrison moderated the panel, which featured creator Matt Groening, executive producer Al Jean, director Mike Anderson, producer David Silverman and voice actor Tress MacNeille.
To kick off the presentation, Groening and Jean introduced the opening for this year’s “Treehouse of Horror” episode, directed by Guillermo del Toro. With that, the lights dimmed and the crowd was treated to some macabre fun that requires more than one viewing to fully appreciate. There were several homages to horror films, including del Toro’s Hellboy, Blade 2 and Pan’s Labyrinth. Futurama’s Hypnotoad also makes an appearance.
On the subject of Groening’s other series, the creator made a surprise announcement: There will be a Futurama-Simpsons crossover, with the Planet Express coming to Springfield. Work is now under way, with plans for the episode to air either as this season’s finale or next season’s premiere.
The panelists then offered to answer questions from attendees, but before the barrage could begin, Jean attempted a preemptive strike: “We always get asked who the upcoming guest stars are. Included this year are Kristen Wiig, Elisabeth Moss, Rachel Maddow, Zach Galifianakis, Stan Lee and Harlan Ellison.”
A fan then asked whether there would be more crossovers between the TV show and The Simpsons: Tapped Out game app. Jean and Groening said fans will see many episodes this season that tie in with the game.
“Simpsons writers are actually writing the gags in the Tapped Out story, and it’s a testament to how dedicated they are that they actually play the game constantly, all day, when they should be writing scripts for the show,” Groening said.
In answering another question, it was revealed there will be a sequel to “Holidays of Future Passed,” and Homer will die so many times he eventually appears as a hologram.
A second clip was played from the upcoming season, showing Homer helping a pregnant mother (voiced by Elizabeth Moss) to give birth. As a way to thank him, she names her son Homer Jr., and the boy and Homer start to spend a lot of time together, leading to friction with Marge and Maggie.
Afterward, an audience member asked whether The Simpsons would ever have a musical episode. Jean replied that while they aren’t doing planning a musical, they are working on a special episode with “lots of music.”
On that note, the musical group We Put the Spring in Springfield was introduced. The foursome, which performs music from, and inspired by, The Simpsons, sang several songs, including a medley of “The Simpson Family Smile Time Variety Hour,” “Flaming Moes,” “Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel,” “Everybody Loves Ned Flanders,” “Love Matic-Grandpa” and “The Garbage Man Can.”
At the end of the performance, the panelists thanked attendees, who responded with cheers and applause.