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Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein Chat #1 Transcript
Former Simpsons executive producers stopped by for their first time and talked about their past on "The Simpsons" and their upcoming project, "Mission Hill"
Interviewed By: The Simpsons Sourcebook

On October 15th, 1999 former Simpsons producers Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley stopped by The Simpsons Sourcebook for a live chat with fans to discuss The Simpsons and also to plug their new show that premiered this fall on the WB called Mission Hill. The transcript is below!

tss_john: Welcome all to The Simpson Sourcebook's LIVE EXCLUSIVE chat with former Simpsons writers Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley!

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Yep. We're both here and ready to answer away!

tss_john: Our guests are here gang -- we're just waiting for everyone to show up -- give us 10 minutes more..

tss_john: about 5 more minutes guys then i'll introduce our guests and the questions can begin!

tss_john: Ok guys -- my clock is close enough so I'd like to proudly introduce Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley! Former Simpsons writers/producers, who wrote such episodes as the "who shot mr. burns" series and "Bart vs. Australia"! They are currently creating a show on the WB called Mission Hill! Guys, welcome!

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Hi, Everyone!

tss_john: the first thing that would probably be best is for you guys to give a brief synopsis of Mission Hill for those that haven't seen it

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Okay - we should begin by apologizing to everyone who tuned in tonight to see our next episode - yesterday we found out we're going to become a midseason show so more episodes won't air until then.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: After a lot of research, we and the WB and Castle Rock determined that barely anybody actually new theshow was on!

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Sorry I spelled "knew" wrong! I'm typing too fast - anyway, the WB wants to relaunch the show when more people will have a chance to know about it/ see it outside of the clutter of Fall TV shows.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: We can tell you about Mission Hill...

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Hold on a sec -- we are having trouble with the frames on this thing...

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Anyway, about Mission Hill...

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: After satirizing the suburban American family on "The Simpsons" for all those years

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: We decided we wanted to take on America's youth in the same fashion

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Most everybody on The Simpsons is under 12 or over 35

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And except for Otto they are mostly kids or older married people

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: There are a lot of stories we wanted to tell that involve people 15-30

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Like stories about sex and dating and high school and lousy first jobs

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: That couldn't be told on the Simpsons

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Also, there is a lot of stuff we wanted to satirize that doesn't really fall into the Simpsons universe that often

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: like MTV and alternative music and uncomfortable sexual situations and 'zines and so forth

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And that is what Mission Hill is about.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And we write the scripts in the same vein as the ones we used to write on "The Simpsons

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Everybody please check out http://www.missionhill.net for more info on the show

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: since you won't be able to see it again until midseason

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Okay -- now onto the Simpsons questions...

tss_john: braddugan: You guys planned on animating a contest winner into the "Who Shot Mr. Burns" episode(s)? What happened

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: The contest wasn't set up all that well

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: You had to use 1800COLLECT and submit your name

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: and the name of the person you were calling

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: then a pool of eligible people was selected and it was about 200 people

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: and they were called by MCI -- plus YOU had to be home during the broadcast and the person you had called during the summer also HAD to be home during the broadcast

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: So that narrowed it way down

tss_john: oh geez.. that's very strange indeed..

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And not one of the people who they called had the right answer!

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: So somebody was picked randomly from among those eligible

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And it was some lady in Washington DC who didn't watch the show

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: She opted for the cash prize instead of being animated. The end.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Next question.

tss_john: mjsmith: Do you have a favorite episode from Seasons 7 and 8 (Your days as executive producers.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: 22 Short Films and Homer's Phobia

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: There are others that we like a lot but those are the top two from 7 and 8.

tss_john: Space_Coyote: Who are your favourite characters to write about?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Of the side characters (non-family) we have two favorites --

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: The Comic Book Guy and Superintendent Chalmers

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Of more prominent characters, we like (obviously) Homer and Lisa and Moe and Principal Skinner and Krusty

tss_john: DrZaius: What's your opinion on Maggie Roswell leaving and the possible killing off of Maude Flanders?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: We have not been consulted on this matter.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Maude Flanders was never super-critical to the show

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: But Maggie Roswell is very talented and we didn't know she was leaving. That's too bad.

tss_john: Space_Coyote: What did you do before the Simpsons?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Before The Simpsons we were unemployed for a long time

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: We did a lot of stuff nobody ever heard of

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Like things on cable and a few pilot things that didn't get picked up

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: But we were huge fans of the show from the earliest days

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And we wrote a couple articles for "Simpsons" magazine -- remember that?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: We considered THAT a big honor -- so you can imagine how we felt when we got hired on the show!

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Next question

tss_john: here's a question from myself -- did you guys ever watch the simpsons when it was on The Ullman Era?

tss_john: or "The Tracey Ullman Show" I should say.. = )

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: A few times but we weren't huge fans of the Tracey Ullman show

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: We didn't tune in just for the Simpsons but we did enjoy them when they appeared

tss_john: Space_Coyote: Are you good friends with any other people who work on the show?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: At that point, it was very hard to see how it would be a series. But Matt and Jim and Sam did an incredible job turning it into one.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: We are friends with many of them

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: But most of the writers from our era are now gone

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Many to Futurama and KotH and the PJs

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And some to here.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Dan McGrath and Rachel Pulido write here now

tss_john: like who?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And Colin A.B.V. Lewis is our producer

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And a large number of tech guys, like the sound people and a lot of our animators


tss_john: EricWirtanen: How much input did Matt Groening put into the Simpsons episodes which you two wrote?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: It depends on the episode.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Matt's main interaction with the scripts is at twice-yearly story conferece

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: He doesn't really see the scripts again until they are read at the table a few months later

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: But he offers a lot of suggestions and input at the stages when he sees them

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And the general idea for Who Shot Mr. Burns was his

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: He also weighs in on character issues (i.e. would Homer really say that?, etc.)

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Next one?

tss_john: DrZaius: Can we know who wrote the 138th Espectacular and Another Simpsons Clip Show beyond the Penny Wise mask?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: No. But it wasn't us.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Nobody was all that excited about clip shows

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: But the network insisted on them.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: We like 138th a lot.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: But the writer (who was contractually sort of forced into it) obviously doesn'


tss_john: Chad-er-ack: Were Joshua Sternin & Jeffrey Ventimilla (the writers of "Round Springfield") part of your staff, or were they producer's sons (as I suspect =) ?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: They were not the producers sons

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: But they weren't on the main staff

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Most years the network insists on more episodes than we could do (22 really)

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: So they get separate teams to do 2 to 4 extra

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: One year it was a team from the Critic

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: I think S&V were on the Critic staff

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Another year they got Dave Mirkin to come back and do a couple


tss_john: temetamara: Will there be a Simpsons movie that you will participate in?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Who knows? We haven't been approached about it

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: But there could be a movie someday. However everyone who could do it (for the most part) is too busy working on the show

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Right now, there is absolutely no movie in the works

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: How about some Mission Hill questions, eh?tss_john: AngryGRRL6: Are any characters on Mission Hill based on real life people, like some were on the Simpsons?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Yes. Most of the Mission Hill characters are based on people we know

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Even the dog.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And one is based loosely on a guest who appeared once on the Simpsons

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Also, many of the stories are based on real life things

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: That happened to us and our friends in the past 15 years

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Many of the people don't know we've based characters on them and would be offended so we don't usually say who they were based on.


GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Another thing about Mission Hill

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: is that Andy will gradually become more successful in his cartooning career over time

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: So by season 8 or 9, he might have his own animated series on the air

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: and will become like us or Matt and we can do stories about things that happened behind the scenes at the Simpsons

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Onward...

tss_john: James-Bont: Where is Mission Hill being advertised? I haven't heard anything about it until I saw the notice about the chat

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Good question.

tss_john: haha..

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: The network did a study in the past few days that determined that this show had the lowest "awareness" of any new show

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: So that was one of the reasons they decided to relaunch it midseason

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Hopefully, it'll be easier to get peoples attention then

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: But do keep checking the website for updates and new clips

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: We're sort of hoping to launch a Blair Witch style Internet groundswell

tss_john: yeah -- remember guys that the address is http://www.missionhill.net

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: http://www.missionhill.net

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: (But in answer to your question, most of the ads

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: were on the WB or in the transit systems of NYC or Chicago or LA

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And there's a full page ad in Rolling Stone this week

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Also, our parents have been telling their friends to watch

tss_john: haha.. that always helps! = )

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Next question

tss_john: DrZaius: Is the animation for Mission Hill done by Film Roman?

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And also Martin Scorsese saw the show on a plane and really liked it

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Yes, Film Roman.

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Our supervising director is Lauren MacMullan, who was on KotH and the Critic

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And we have several defectors from the other FR shows on staff

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And even some defectors from our "rival" show MTV Downtown

tss_john: well -- that's the hour folks and I know that I could personally talk to bill and josh for an entire week -- but this is the end of the scheduled chat..

tss_john: I'd like to thank Bill and Josh for taking time out to be here

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Okay, everyone -- thank you and

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: please remember to watch Mission Hill when it comes back and tell your friends to watch it

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And also thanks to Frinkiac.com for helping us out

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Hopefully we'll be back for many more chats and

tss_john: so it'll start back up in the spring guys -- watch for the ads and also watch out on WB

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: we can set up more of them for direct feedback from you guys

GUEST_BILLandJOSH: As Dr. Nick might says "Bye, everyboddie!"

tss_john: that would be great guys! thanks again -- and also since you all are on the internet -- keep watch on missionhill.net for the latest information too!

tss_john: okay -- everyone please file out of the rows calmly and carefully.. = )