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Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein Chat
Former Simpsons executive producers stopped by for their first time and talked
about their past on "The Simpsons" and their upcoming project,
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
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
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
GUEST_BILLandJOSH: There are a lot of stories we wanted to tell that involve
GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Like stories about sex and dating and high school and lousy
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
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
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
GUEST_BILLandJOSH: She opted for the cash prize instead of being animated. The
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
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
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
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
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)
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
tss_john: temetamara: Will there be a Simpsons movie that you will participate
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
GUEST_BILLandJOSH: Even the dog.
GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And one is based loosely on a guest who appeared once on the
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
GUEST_BILLandJOSH: and will become like us or Matt and we can do stories about
things that happened behind the scenes at the Simpsons
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.
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
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
tss_john: yeah -- remember guys that the address is 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
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
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
GUEST_BILLandJOSH: And even some defectors from our "rival" show MTV
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
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.. =