Friday, November 04, 2016

Longest, Biggest, TV Cash Cow Ever

This will please a hard-working crew:

Fox has renewed The Simpsons for an unprecedented 29th and 30th seasons. The renewal takes the long-running hit animated series to 669 episodes, the largest number of episodes for any scripted television series ever, and breaks the record previously set by Gunsmoke (635 episodes). ...

Currently in production on its 28th season, The Simpsons has won 32 Emmy Awards, 34 Annie Awards, a 2016 People’s Choice Award and a 2016 Environmental Media Award. It was the first animated series to win a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for the theatrical short The Longest Daycare. The Simpsons Movie was a hit feature film, the mega-attraction The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios has received historic expansion updates with the addition of “Springfield”. ...

A few signposts in the show's production history:

The Simpsons started as interstitials on The Tracey Ullman show back when saber-toothed tigers were frequenting the La Brea tar pits. The Animation Guild first tried to organize the series in its early days at Klasky-Csupo, but no luck. The crew wasn't interested.

Years passed.

The writers became fed up with working non-union in 1997 and staged a revolt. Fox blustered, threatened, then caved, and the WGAw had its first animated show under contract.

More years passed.

The Simpsons, now an institution, was also a massive cash cow. Writers, show producers, and studio execs got rich off the torrent of dollars spewing into the coffers of Gracie Films and Fox News Corp (as it was then called).

Sadly, the board artists, designers, timing directors and layouts artists were not participating in the profits in any significant way. All the folks doing visual pre-production remained non-union, many of them at salaries below minimum rates. Most remained committed to the show (there's loyalty for you). But in the middle oughts, loyalties were tested. The Simpsons's voice actors staged a wild-cat strike for more money, and were out for months. The animation crew was laid off, and it was then that board artists, designers, timing directors and layouts artists decided not to be loyal anymore, but to exercise their workplace rights and ORGANIZE.

The Simpsons crew has been under a Guild contract for over a decade, and we salute each and every one of the artists and director for achieving the milestone of thirty season, 669 episodes. Well done!


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