Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Simpsons Interruptus

As a commenter below commented, there's trouble in Homerland:

Last week, Fox announced a fall schedule that included animated staple "The Simpsons" in its normal Sunday timeslot. The hitch? There's still no deal with the voice talent behind "The Simpsons." And without one, the 20th season of the series could be in jeopardy.

While sources close to both the voice actors and 20th Century Fox TV are optimistic that they're on the road to a new deal, production on the show's 20th season has been on hold for months -- meaning the studio will probably produce just 20, rather than 22, segs next season ...

I'm a longtime believer in leverage, and the voice actors of The Simpsons obviously have some. (Call me naive if you like , but I don't think the company will replace the actors with cheaper imitations.) Howsoever ...

... my stomach churns when I think of the handful of artists hanging by a thread at Film Roman, also all the laid off artists who are now the collateral damage caused by the stalled voice-actors' negotiations.

I'm pretty much of the opinion (stated here previously) that the actors are piggy-backing on the (possible) SAG and AFTRA strike that could happen anytime after July 1, the better to juice their own negotiations with Rupert's boys and girls.

I'm told there are several scripts ready for recording, but if contracts aren't finalized, then ... no voice tracks, and no shows. And if a general actors strike goes on for months (certainly a possibility), then there will most likely be fewer Simpson episodes inside a shorter 20th season.

I gotta believe that the parties will reach a deal and hustle the scripts on hand into the recording studio. If they don't, a lot of Simpsons artists, all of whom deserve better, could have a long, miserable summer. Many have already had a really crappy Spring ...


C.M.B. said...

The Japanese anime series Doraemon, which has been on since 1979, replaced its cast after having the same voice actors for 25 years.

Anonymous said...

The writers obviously didn't give a crap about the artists and everyone below the line. The actors obviously don't give a crap about the artists and everyone below the line. Exactly where is the 'collective' in collective bargaining in this town? This is all a big fat joke, right?

True labor leverage is an impossibility with the realities of these fundamental divisions. Pattern bargaining has already been an absolute disaster. So now a few powerful actors on a single show are piggy-backing SAG's leverage (or lack of.) It's pathetic.

So which is really worse - working directly for one of four or five stable, well diversified international media corporations that will be around for the next one hundred years? Or working under a contract that is consistently being undercut, undermined, back-stabbed, and thrown to the curb by four or five disjointed, unstable, and randomly negotiated collective bargaining agreements that this town calls 'labor.' What was it that the WGA helped get us again? New media rights? Free broadband? Whatever. Again, it's a big f'ing joke.

To be fair, thank you for the healthcare. But I hope it sticks, b/c I'm happily leaping from this Titanic at the first sight of those two lifeboats the Enlightened World calls REASON and LOGIC.

Anonymous said...

honestly, i don't have a hell of a lot of sympathy for the Simpson's crew. they've been on one of the biggest gracvy trains this town has ever seen animation-wise(has any other show had more longevity? any other job had more security?). there are plenty of us out here scraping by that i'm not hoping and praying that the Simpsons keeps going through the motions like they have for the past 8 season.

With Fox working to develop so much new animated content, i'd say that the Simpson's cast has a lot less leverage than they think they do. why try to re-animate the corpse-of-a-show that thing has turned into? there is nothing more they have to offer.

Anonymous said...

During the Simpsons voice actor negeotiations of the late '90s, the possibility of hiring scabs was threatened. They didn't did then and they're not going to do it now.

This is all just one big negotiating tactic.

Anonymous said...

There's probably a thousand people in LA who think they can imitate the Simpson voices. All Fox would have to do is find the 3 or 4 who actually can. It might take them a few weeks to sift thru them all but they could do it.

I recall an interview with Tracey Ullman where she was asked if she did the voices. No, she replied, but she could. And then she did a spot-on Bart Simpson.

Marge Simpson might be hard to replace, but they could just write her out or re-use old takes until the regular cast caves in and signs a new contract.

Anonymous said...

Instead of waiting on the voice actors . . I wonder why the producers don't allow the artists to storyboard the available scripts and then have the actors RECORD THEIR VOICES BASED ON THE BOARDS like it was done (and done well) for most of animation's history??

They could be several months ahead of where they are now and wouldn't lose their board artists waiting for the vocal prima donnas to come to work!!

C.M.B. said...

Looks like the VAs have signed. They're getting $400k an episode now.

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