James L. Brooks can recall the exact moment he realized “The Simpsons” had become a pop culture phenom.
“It was 27 years ago and some magazine like ‘Satellite News’ put us on the cover,” recalled Brooks, one of the show’s co-creators. “I said, ‘Oh my God, we’re on the cover!’ And put it on my wall. Remember how in ‘Tootsie,’ there’s this montage where all these magazine covers start coming at you at once? It was like that, and suddenly all the covers were on my wall. There’s an actual sound that happens when you enter the culture and I remember experiencing that.”
Brooks was speaking at a party in celebration for the 600th episode of “The Simpsons,” held Friday night at the YouTube Space L.A. Attendees walked a yellow carpet and got a sneak preview of the episode, “Treehouse of Horror XXVII,” which airs Sunday. They also got a sneak peek at the virtual-reality couch gag that was made in conjunction with Google and can be seen Sunday. Called “Planet of the Couches,” it’s a 360 degree immersive experience developed by Google Spotlight Stories with executive producers Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Matt Selman and director David Silverman.
Asked to explain the enduring appeal of “The Simpsons,” now in its 28th season, Groening spoke of the teamwork behind the show. “It’s a huge shared vision among writers, animators, actors, and musicians and we’re all facing the same direction and everybody throws in their life experience and makes the show better,” said Groening. “It’s a true collaboration that really works.”
Added Silverman, “The original style Matt came up with and the color palette was so striking. It was really the first TV family that watched TV. And we could do so many great parodies with animation that you can’t do with live-action.”
As for what we can expect this season, there will be an hour-long episode that pays homage to “The Great Gatsby” and special guest voices included Taraji P. Henson. Said Brooks, “We had a great table read this week. It juiced us up. It might be one of our best. I know it sounds like BS, but we’re having a really exciting year and a lot of fun.”
(Pictured above: James L. Brooks and Matt Groening)