After twenty plus years on the air and 499 episodes and counting, tonight marks a momentous milestone in the illustrious history of THE SIMPSONS: 500 Episodes. And what better way to celebrate such an occasion than by spending a few minutes chatting with Al Jean. Having worked on the show in various capacities since its earliest days as an animated short on THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW, Jean, the show’s current executive producer was only too happy to reflect on the remarkable feat that is 500. See for yourself, after the jump.
Is there an episode or scene that you think speaks to the essence of the show?
Al Jean: Well, I’ll tell you my favorite scene from the movie was the one where Bart is looking in Flanders’ window at how great the life is there, and Flanders makes cocoa for him, and I think that’s a good representative scene of the philosophy of the show. It’s sort of this family that’s looking in on wonderful life elsewhere and then wishing that they had it.
500 episodes equals a whole helluva lot of high profile guest stars. Is there anyone who remains on your wish list?
People have turned us down, like Clint Eastwood a couple times who would have been great to get, and we never got a U.S. president, so I finally threw in the towel and put in Teddy Roosevelt to fill that gap. But we’re always just looking for people that are funny, like Lady Gaga, and fresh and that we can bring into our world.
What can you tease about tonight’s 500th?
There are little Easter eggs all the way through, a very surprising special guest star, special rendition of the closing and yes, a special opening too, but I’m kind of trying to hold the surprises. But, yes, there are a bunch of things you don’t expect.
Coming out of last year’s highly-publicized contract negotiations, have you as a Showrunner given much thought to pre-emptively producing a series finale should the show ever abruptly end?
No. Had we ended last year, we would have held the Christmas show that we just aired and made that the last episode, but now that is no longer in our pocket but out there.
Should the day ever come, do you have an idea of how you’d like to end the series?
We would just want to do something like that that’s warm and maybe gives you a little bit of a summation of the series, but there’s no—my view of The Simpsons is it’s like a giant Mobius strip where it always come back to the beginning, and it’s evergreen. We’re not going to do any radical changes, certainly none that would preclude another movie.
THE SIMPSONS airs Sundays at 8PM on FOX (Global TV in Canada) and features the voice talents of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille and more. Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv