Sunday, April 11, 2010

Repost from May, 2007: Gentlemen, Start Your Whacking! or How Homer Simpson Wound Up Doing a Cameo on Duckman

This Thursday, May 10th, is Springfield's favorite holiday, Whacking Day. And this Saturday is Homer Simpson's birthday. So in honor of both, here is Homer's cameo on Duckman, from the 1997 episode "Haunted Society Plumbers."

We were doing a deliberately corny homage to Martin & Lewis/Abbott & Costello/Hope & Crosby movies, and I always enjoyed the little cameos in those movies. I wanted to get Homer, but everyone said it was impossible. And they were right. After all, it would require every entity involved in The Simpsons, an enterprise worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to simply "give him" to us... and for free at that.

But I figured, hey, we could either give up, or we could take a shot, right?

So instead of asking one of the hundreds of people whose job it is to say no, I wrote a letter to Matt Groening, explaining what we wanted to do. I promised that we wouldn't exploit Homer or publicize his appearance at all. In fact, just the opposite: the fun for us was that it would be a surprise. It wasn't a "show business" letter. It was just a sincere request from a fan.

I was shocked a week later when I got a call from Matt Groening himself! I was too much in a daze to remember a lot of what was said, but I will always remember him saying he'd be "honored to have Homer appear on Duckman." He made all the arrangements with 20th and with Gracie, and made sure our animators got all of Homer's character materials.

And then Dan Castellaneta was very generous with his time and talent. Seeing him come into the studio and "become" Homer... I'll tell you, David Copperfield never did a magic trick that amazed me more.

This is far from the funniest scene we ever did. But start to finish, working on these few dopey seconds was one of the biggest thrills of my professional life.

Sorry. Viacom yanked the video off of Youtube today. Guys, either put the show out on DVD or lay off, will ya?

4/11/10  Well, it's now on DVD and it's on YouTube... For now... The scene comes about 20 minutes in.

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