He’s been buying zoos and circuses to free animals since December 2012, the month after he was diagnosed with colon cancer and given three to six months to live. “I don’t consider that philanthropy,” he says, “I think it’s a crazy hobby toward the end of my life.”
But the Writers Guild of America West does. Simon will receive WGA’s Valentine Davies Award for his humanitarian work at the guild’s awards ceremony on Saturday and in November received its Animation Writers Caucus award for lifetime achievement in animation writing.
Simon made his mark in animation as one of the original showrunners on “The Simpsons.” His “Simpsons” credits include character designer, creative consultant, creative supervisor, developer, executive producer and writer. He left the show in 1993 while retaining an exec producer title.
The animated sitcom, he says, gave him more freedom than live action.
“You can draw animals and sets but the animated characters also have freedom. The Simpsons sometimes do things that real people wouldn’t do.”
He’s outlived his prognosis and is still working, consulting on FX’s “Anger Management” and hosting a talkshow on radioio.com — when he’s not rescuing bears in Colorado.