Friday, April 16, 2010

Roaming Through Starz

Today was Film Roman-Starz Media day, where Season 21 of "The Simpsons" is winding down and Season 22 begins to ramp up ...

There seemed to be more empty cubes than usual. When I asked about it, one staffer said:

"People finish their shows and go on hiatus. Sometimes the hiatus lasts quite a while. You might be on for seven or eight weeks, then off for three or four. Or longer."

The way it was explained to me by a production person: "Fox gave the studio less money to work with after the writers strike and the voice actors' holdout. And a bunch of positions got eliminated, and the decision was made to spread the pain around, eliminate weeks on the schedule. So a lot of people are still working, but working fewer weeks."

More to the point, one artist noted:

"If you're slow, or they don't think you're productive enough, you're gone ..."

Still in all, "The Simpsons" shows no sign of ending its decades-old run. The show still has life in Sunday night ratings, and continues to sell lots of DVDs. A person up the production food chain told me:

"We've got 22 new episodes to do, which is a lot of hours into the Pension and Health Plan. And I think, talking to people at Fox and around here, that we could do several more seasons beyond this one ..."

Naturally the actors have to be willing, and Fox has to negotiate new deals with a variety of parties. But at least one of the parties is optimistic (in a backhanded kind of way):

Q: You do a zillion voices on “The Simpsons.” How long do you think the show will last?

Harry Shearer: I’ve always said “The Simpsons” will be on until Fox develops another 8 o’clock comedy hit. So I’d give us another 57 years. ...

The artists I talked to are glad to be working and prepared to go another fifty-seven years, if the show goes that long. But I'll tell you, I've seen better morale around the place...


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