Maude Flanders was killed off of the Simpsons 14 years ago.
Credits: Supplied photo
For The Simpsons, the 21st century began with the death of Maud Flanders. Now after 14 years, the producers intend to kill off another regular character.
Executive producer Al Jean admitted as much in a recent phone conference with the press, promoting Sunday's 25th season debut of The Simpsons.
"I'll give you a clue that the actor playing the character won an Emmy for playing that character, but I won't say who it is," Jean said cagily.
In fact, virtually all the major characters have been rewarded with an Emmy over the years.
He was much more forthcoming about the season premiere, Homerland, a spoof of, yes, Homeland. In it, Lisa believes that Homer has been "turned" by terrorists for his access to nuclear secrets at the Springfield plant.
Fittingly enough, Homeland's third season premiere and the Simpsons spoof air on the same Sunday night.
"It was a complete accident," Jean says of the timing. "But we're very friendly. The producers at Homeland have offices that are literally 100 feet away. They were really helpful with DVDs. Our composer, Alf Clausen, talked to their composer, Sean Callery about how they do that show."
Among other revelations about the upcoming season:
-Guillermo del Toro is contributing the opening to the annual Treehouse of Terror episode, which airs Oct. 6. "I would say - and I've met some people who like scary things - he is the greatest expert on horror movies that I have ever encountered. There are so many references in that opening, it's really brilliant."
-The season finale will be a Simpsons/Futurama cross-over episode, which has already had a table-read. "I've been here 25 years, and we had a read yesterday where the excitement was as high as I've ever seen. We had John DiMaggio and Billy West and (Canadian voice-over king) Maurice LaMarche from Futurama, as well as our cast, and I thought that's got to be the greatest voiceover talent assembled at one read. It was really, really great to see Bender interacting with Homer."
-The Comic Book Guy gets married. "The wedding is performed by Stan Lee. We have Stan Lee playing himself and (sci-fi legend) Harlan Ellison playing himself in that episode. What was funny was that they both wanted to be funnier than the other. It was really exciting for me, as a nerd."
-Celeb voices in Season 25 include Kristen Wiig (in the opener), Zach Galifianakis and Elisabeth Moss. "In that (Elisabeth Moss) episode, Homer is stuck on an elevator with a pregnant woman and delivers her baby. She's grateful and she doesn't have a husband, so she names the baby Homer Jr. And Homer actually bonds with the baby better than his own (children)."
-Still unfulfilled from the producers' wishlist - a U.S. president (though they did once use a recording of Teddy Roosevelt's voice). "We approached Nixon - no. This was back at the beginning of the show. Gerald Ford? No. Jimmy Carter - we actually did a joke about him being reviled as history's greatest monster, which he saw before we sent him the script. So he said no. Reagan said no, but wrote us a nice letter. The first Bush said no. Clinton we approached really hard and he said ... it would demean the presidency. So we gave up."