Now with Add On.
Tom Klein, a newer Simpsons producer.
When I pulled into the parking lot that wraps around Film Roman/Starz Media, I had a hard time finding a spot to stash my car. A large number of spaces than usual were filled, a good indicator that more shows are ramping up, and more artists coming back to work.
But all is not sugar and cream:
"Fox seems to want to hold down costs on the artistic side. Lots of people are being asked to do more than before, and wages are about the same." ... "Artists are happy to be back at work, but nobody knows how much longer The Simpsons goes on. One more season? Two? Will Fox keep it around longer?" ... "The Fox producers want every show more elaborate than the last." ... "There's going to be a second feature we figure, but will there be a third?" ...
One brighter spot is the arrival of Tom Klein as a new Simpsons producer.
"Tom's been good at communicating, and it seems he wants to be as effective as he can." ... "Tom's responsive. When you need something to do your job, he works to get it for you." ...
Nobody I talked to has a clue whether or not The SimpsonsM will have a Season #21 after the current 20th. "Maybe Fox and Gracie will want to break more records and keep it going" is the hopeful conjecture.
All or most of the Yellow Family's veteran directors are back in harness and working on new shows.
Add On: I failed to mention that at Starz Media, as in other animation facilities, the march of the Cintiq is relentless. Returning Simpsonsites have abandoned pencil and paper, and are working for the first time in digital mode with the big, ubiquitous computer screens. "The board artists now use them," a staffer said, "and some of the designers and layout artists are starting to take them up. Probably everybody will be drawing on them sooner or later."
I'm told the idea is that production efficiency will be improved. But in my experience, shifting to digital means more neat stuff can be done, so more neat stuff will be done. And no overall efficiencies -- same amount of work with less staff -- will take place. The resulting reality will be more work creating more stuff with the same (or more) staff.