Homer Heading For New Record
From a chaotic office, a team of writers is on the way to creating the longest-running sitcom ever. KATHY McCABE reports:

IT all begins in a small, chaotic office with a view of the fishpond. Here, the writers of The Simpsons work on several episodes at once, developing the first draft for new shows and refining the scripts for those in progress.

"The history and the style of the show is firmly embedded in the disgusting conference room that we work in," writer and producer Matt Selman said. "There's food everywhere and wrappers and cans and papers and garbage and old scripts. They try to clean it up but the cleanliness level is that of a 13-year-old boy."

The creative process is exhausting for everyone who works on the show, with each episode taking up to eight months to complete. Fox has renewed The Simpsons for another two seasons, and when that contract ends in mid-2005, it will have become the longest-running sitcom ever. The Simpsons 300th show was aired (in Australia) on May 7.

It was only recently that Selman received first-hand evidence of its extraordinary popularity with viewers from dozens of countries around the world. Eagle-eyed fans spotted an email address for Homer in one episode and sent a flood of emails. Selman registered the address — chunkylover53@aol.com — before the episode aired and logged on after its American broadcast in January to check viewer reaction. At least 10,000 lucky viewers received a personalised response from Homer.

"I'm still getting emails to that address as the episode airs in other countries but I've had to stop answering them, lest it consume me," said Selman, who has been writing Homer Simpson for five seasons. "People around the world love the show and it was interesting to get emails from people in Singapore, Czechoslovakia, Brazil and Argentina."

Along the eight-month rollercoaster ride of each episode, Selman and his team have ample opportunity to check the jokes are still tickling their funny bones. "We do two or three different re-writes — and you've had a two-month break between each time you've seen it — so you see it fresh and you're more able to judge the material honestly," he said.

"The process feels like that famous episode of I Love Lucy where the chocolate balls are coming along too fast... it feels like you are just trying to keep up with the conveyor belt."

• The Simpsons is on Ten at 6pm Saturday and every weeknight

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Disclaimer: This article is from the May 18th, 2003 edition of tvguide from the Sunday Mail newspaper in Adelaide, South Australia. It has been posted here for general information purposes and no profit is being made from this article. Visit The Advertiser/Sunday Mail website here.


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