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Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein Chat
Former Simpsons Exec Producers Chat at TSS and discuss their past on "The
Simpsons" and their future on their new projects such as "Mission
Interviewed By: The Simpsons Sourcebook
On Friday, July 14th, TSS played host to Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, former
producers of The Simpsons. The duo discussed their latest project Mission Hill,
their future on Futurama, and their past on The Simpsons. The questions were
very good and lots of new information was said. Below you can find the
transcript of the chat. Enjoy!
johnfiedler says "Welcome everyone to The Simpsons Sourcebook!
Tonight, we are honored to play host to Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley, former
producers of The Simpsons. The duo is currently overseeing their own animated
show on the WB called "Mission Hill". Guys, on behalf of TSS and
everyone here, I would like to welcome you!"
billjosh says "Hello all..."
billjosh says "thanks for waiting..."
billjosh says "Sorry we're late... computer troubles at home...
billjosh says "First hello all.."
jedijones asks "In what capacity will you be working on Futurama,
producers, writers, consultants, etc?"
billjosh says "We're consultanting producers..."
billjosh says "which means that we sorta help out with every aspect
of the show..."
billjosh says "but the bulk of it is spent in the rewrite room every
billjosh says "going over scripts."
jedijones asks "Regarding Futurama, do you have some direction or
influence do you have in mind for the series compared to what it is now?"
billjosh says "We make story suggestions..."
billjosh says "but it's really up to Matt and Dave to determine the
direction of a show."
mrl asks "I see on the Mission Hill newsletter that the ratings have
been good, any sign of the WB reconsidering their diecisions?"
billjosh says "We've aired three episodes..."
billjosh says "and with each airings the ratings go up a teeny tiny
billjosh says "What we need is for it to keep going up and in a
larger way for them to renew the show."
billjosh says "And that we found totally depends on fan word of
billjosh says "And actually we tribute the last booth to fans
getting the word out..."
billjosh says "so keep doing it!"
jedijones asks "Who would win in a chess match - the college age
Lisa Simpson or Kevin French?"
billjosh says "Kevin would whup Lisa's ass. He's older, and far more
devious and cut-throat!"
jedijones asks "Where do you think some of the recent animated TV
comedies have gone wrong? Have any shows given TV animation a bad name?"
billjosh says "Some of the more recent shows were done by people who
didn't have experience in animation - that can really hurt."
billjosh says "Successful TV animation depends on the writers
working, almost literally hand-in-hand with the animators. Sometimes writers
don't realize this."
jukka asks "How come Bill is not mentioned on the episode 22 Short
Films About Springfield. I assume you are working pretty closely all the
billjosh says "Bill's not mentioned in the credits of 22 Films
because it was a GROSS ERROR - he wrote the best segment in many people's
jedijones asks "How did you guys decide whose name went first in the
tv show credits?"
billjosh says "It's alphabetical, isn't it?"
billjosh says "By the way, we get residuals for that episode that
total about $8 a year!"
johnfiedler says "sweeeet.. :o )"
jedijones asks "How long have Bill and Josh known each other, and
what made them realize they worked well as writing partners?"
billjosh says "We are best friends from high school. We first met in
billjosh says "We were two guys with similar senses of humor and a
big interest in comedy and cartooning."
billjosh says "After college, we started working together because it
seemed like it would be a lot of fun."
jedijones asks "If Simpsons DVDs get up to the middle seasons, would
you guys provide commentary on the shows you produced?"
billjosh says "If someone asked us to comment we certainly would. No
billjosh says "LOL."
slffea asks "any chance mission hill will be picked up by another
billjosh says "It doesn't seem likely. As you may know, TV execs are
deathly afraid of prime-time animation these days."
johnfiedler says "what about something like comedy central?"
johnfiedler says "that's always a possibility I would think.."
johnfiedler says "they did pick up "The Critic""
billjosh says "Mission Hill would never work on CBS, NBC, or ABC.
Fox has said they don't want any more and UPN was not interested."
billjosh says "It may have a second life on cable but I don't think
so. Comedy Central could rerun the 13 we have but"
billjosh says "they could never afford to make new ones. This show
was very expensive, in the neighborhood of KotH or Futurama."
jedijones asks "I heard this somewhere... Was Bill and/or Josh
involved in the Mystery Sci Theatre 3000 show at any point, and in what
billjosh says "No - that's the other Josh Weinstein who most
recently worked on Freaks and Geeks. He's a nice guy, but no relation to our
marknavarro asks "How did you come up with the idea for Mission
billjosh says "Mission Hill was inspired by a couple of
billjosh says "First when we were working on the Simpsons, since the
family is all adults and kids ..."
billjosh says "and most of the characters are over 35 or under
billjosh says "we had many ideas for stories that seemed great but
billjosh says "involve those age groups. Dating, sex, lousy first
billjosh says "And we thought that would make a great show."
billjosh says "Second, we are also big fans of zines and alternative
comics. Optic Nerve, Eightball, Hate, Schizo, etc."
billjosh says "And zines like McJob and Temp Slave. And we wanted to
do a show that would sort of encapsulate that mindset."
jedijones asks "What inspired the distinctive design and animation
style of Mission Hill?"
billjosh says "Our head designer Lauren MacMullan is one of the best
artists we know. We wanted her to design it from the very beginning."
billjosh says "All three of us have always loved comic books and we
wanted Mission Hill to be like an animated, lushly designed underground comic
billjosh says "The style itself is Lauren's own distinct style - the
first woman to designa primetime show by the way! - she would probably say she
was influenced by Kurtzman and Elder. We just love the style and color of
Mission Hill - it's like nothing else on TV."
johnfiedler says "it is definately an original and it gives the show
its own flair.."
cams asks "Why not make Mission Hill just a comic book? I'm sure it
would do good if you looked at Fortune And Glory as an example..."
billjosh says "Actually, we have talked about that."
billjosh says "We have five excellent episodes that were never
billjosh says "and Lauren MacMullan said, voluntarily, that she
would love to make"
billjosh says "them into comic books."
billjosh says "So there is a distinct possibility that might happen
in the next year or so."
johnfiedler says "well, let's take a break from "serious"
questions.. we have quite a few oddballs that people really want to know..
billjosh says "Fire away..."
jedijones asks "Is Stogie neutered?"
billjosh says "No - but there actually was talk about a specific
story about that."
billjosh says "Also, we had a whole story about trying to cure
Stogie of his alcoholism! He's based on a real dog, by the way!"
cams asks "has either one of you crowd surfed?"
johnfiedler says "I have no idea why they want to know this.."
johnfiedler says "haha.."
billjosh says "Bill: Ha! Why do you ask? Cause that's an interesting
billjosh says "Josh: Stogie ever surfed? Or have we?"
billjosh says "I (Bill) do not surf but I have been bodyboarding a
billjosh says "And actually I was bodysurfing and separated my
shoulder about two weeks ago and had to have surgery!"
billjosh says "Now I have a big scar on my shoulder which is really
johnfiedler says "and from the same guy:"
cams asks "any of you like Nofx, I know you do Bill...but does
billjosh says "Bill: I am not really all that familiar with Nofx.
billjosh says "think they're definitely cool - but I also like more
mellow stuff like Sublime. Josh is also a big fan of Mudhoney."
billjosh says "(that was Josh for last sentence)"
billjosh says "Of course CAKE IS OUR FAVORITE - They did our
jukka asks "Do you follow Usenet groups like Simpsons and/or
johnfiedler says "or "newsgroups""
billjosh says "Bill: I don't really follow them regularly."
billjosh says "I do sometimes log on and scan through the headers
and sometimes I search for my name... har."
jedijones asks "If the cast of Mission Hill was on survivor island,
who would be the first voted off?"
billjosh says "Kevin would absolutely be voted off first."
billjosh says "However, he might just be able to put on a devious
friendly front or manage a voting block"
johnfiedler says "muhaha!"
billjosh says "like Richard in which case, who know? They would
probably gang up and vote Gus off first cause"
billjosh says "he's bossy like Bebe."
billjosh says "I love this question."
cams asks "if you guys ever made a Mission Hill comic book, who
would you go for? DC, Bongo, Marvel, Vertigo, or some other ind. company?"
billjosh says "Most likely an indie company - we're big fans of
Drawn & Quarterly and the like - but if a big one would want to do it - and
they'd give us creative freedom, we'd be open to it!"
marknavarro asks "Why did you guys go to work on Futurama?"
billjosh says "Our contract to do Mission Hill finished up a couple
of months ago."
billjosh says "And Futurama is one of our favorite shows on right
now. We are close friends with David X. Cohen and he had been asking us if we
would come aboard."
billjosh says "Right now we are there 2.5 days a week as consultants
for this third season."
billjosh says "The 2.5 days a week also allowed us to have a nice
summer vacation on the days we weren't working there. (So I immediately went out
and broke my shoulder.)"
johnfiedler says "hahaha.. good call.."
johnfiedler says "last question:"
jedijones asks "Would you ever work on The Simpsons again? Would you
write a Simpsons movie if asked?"
billjosh says "eah - the Simpsons gave us our first big break and we
were huge fans of the show before we started. If they wanted us back, we'd go
gladly - but right now our first love is Mission Hill."
billjosh says "We actually have a top secret idea for a Simpsons
film, but they have to ask us to do it first. But the Simpsons film may be a
great mythological thing that is always talked about and never done. It requires
a lot of time!"
johnfiedler says "Well, that's a rap ladies and gents! Thanks to
everyone who came out tonight and for everyone's interesting questions! I would
like to thank Josh and Bill for always being open to chat with the fans and we
hope to hear about your continuing success in television!"
billjosh says "Hey, thanks for coming everybody and sorry for the
delay! If you are interested in MH please visit our website at www.missionhill.net"
billjosh says "and if you send us feedback you can get the weekly
Mission Hill newsletter with info about the show and behind-the-scenes stuff,
billjosh says "You can also email GusLunch@aol.com
and say you want the newsletter. Thanks again!"
johnfiedler says "Thanks Bill and Josh -- it's always a
billjosh says "Josh...."
billjosh says "wants to say..."
billjosh says "Watch this Sunday at 9:30! Tell your friends! We love
you! Help! Goodbye! Bill said some other nice things to you all! So long!"
johnfiedler says ".....sunday!"
billjosh says "YES!"