×

Dan Castellaneta of ‘The Simpsons’ Remembers Sam Simon

Sam Simon left a big impression on those he worked with during his long run as a comedy writer, director and producer. 

The co-creator of “The Simpsons” also made sure that his legacy would endure well beyond the screen, thanks to his well-documented effort to give away most of his fortune after he was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer in 2012. Simon died March 8 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 59.

Dan Castellaneta, a stalwart of “The Simpsons” as the voice of Homer and many other characters, also worked with Simon on three other series: Fox’s “The Tracey Ullman Show” and “The George Carlin Show” and ABC’s “Sibs.” Here Castellaneta shares memories of the writer-producer he credits with changing the course of his career. — Cynthia Littleton<

“I first met Sam while we were doing “The Tracey Ullman Show.” My first memory of him from those days was that although he had already been in the business for a while, he was still kind of a wunderkind.

He’d be sitting there with all these experienced guys — Jerry Belson, Jim Brooks — and there’d be times when people would be stuck for a line. I’d see Sam thinking and talking to himself, and then he would say something. At least 70% to 90% of the time, it would be a really great, succinct line. He directed a lot of ‘Tracey Ullman’ shows and we always had a blast working with him. Sam could interface with anybody, because he had such a wide variety of interests. He loved theater and movies and sports — we even talked about comicbooks. That’s what I remember most about Sam. He was a really funny, charismatic guy.

On ‘The Simpsons,’ he was incredibly influential in terms of how the room was run, and in terms of the tone of the show. He brought on a number of writers who are still with us today. (Current ‘Simpsons’ showrunner) Al Jean was a protege of Sam’s. Sam was our primary director for the first two or three years. He was instrumental in fine-tuning the voices. Sometimes I would come up with a voice for a character, and he would go, ‘Eh.’ We would keep at it and finally find the right one.

Sam was a really good director, because he was great with actors. He was very relaxed, but he constantly came up with ideas, and he was always open to ideas. He made it a great atmosphere to work, and on top of that, he was just fun to be around.

Sam was just instrumental in laying the template for how things run on ‘The Simpsons.’ To this day, we’re still working with his template.

Sam was very influential in my life and my career. I even wrote him a little note once to say that I was thankful for what he’d done. When somebody of his talent and ability says, ‘You’re good,’ that does a world of good for your confidence. Most actors don’t have that much confidence. I will always be very appreciative of his support.”

More TV

  • Oliver-Berben-and-Uli-Edel

    Constantin TV, ZDF, Global Screen, Team on 'The Palace' (EXCLUSIVE)

    BERLIN — Constantin Film, the No. 1 German independent behind the “Resident Evil” franchise, is teaming with German public broadcaster ZDF to produce “The Palace,” (“Friedrichstadt-Palast”) a period drama set at the celebrated Berlin music hall. Global Screen will handle international distribution. “Last Exit to Brooklyn’s” Uli Edel will re-team with Constantin Television, directing the [...]

  • The Suspended Mourning

    Berlin: Hernan Caffiero Sets Up Two Series About Victims of Police Violence as Chilean Industry Protests Brutality (EXCLUSIVE)

    Inspired by the victims of violent crackdowns by Chilean police, filmmaker Hernán Caffiero is looking to tell their story. Caffiero is currently developing two series about human rights crimes and the effects of police brutality in Chile, one a four-part documentary, the other a follow-up to his Intl. Emmy-winning “The Suspended Mourning,” a dramatized collection [...]

  • HBO Michael Lombardo project

    Elisa Viihde, Rabbit Films, Keshet Intl. Team On Finnish Drama 'Summer of Sorrow' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Finland’s top streaming service Elisa Viihde has ordered “Summer of Sorrow,” a high-concept mystery thriller series that’s being produced by Rabbit Films and will be sold by Keshet Intl. around the world. The 10-episode show, created Jani Volanen (“M/S Romantic”) and set in the early 1980s, takes place in an idyllic Finnish suburb of Munkkivuori [...]

  • Cryptid

    Beta Film Drives Into YA Scripted (EXCLUSIVE)

    BERLIN — Germany’s Beta Film is driving into Young Adult scripted, acquiring international distribution rights and co-financing four high-profile fiction series, three set up at top European regional SVOD players: Germany’s Joyn and Telekom and Scandinavia’s  Viaplay. Many also involve top European production houses as well. To be unveiled at the Berlinale Series Market’s German [...]

  • The Clan

    Firefly Prods. Building Belgrade Studio, Rolling Out Big Series Slate

    Since launching in Serbia in 2018, Belgrade-based Firefly Prods. has not only quickly become a major producer of scripted series, it’s also raising the country’s profile as a film location with its plans to build a major studio complex this year. Headed by former BBC news producer Ivana Mikovic, Firefly has a fast-growing slate of [...]

  • Campus Madrid Content City

    Timeline of Secuoya Group's Growth

    2007 • Raul Berdonés founds the Secuoya Group on Dec. 11. 2008 • First outsourcing services deal is with broadcaster Antena 3. 2009 • Launches TV content production as part of early diversification. 2011 • Debuts on Spain’s MAB Alternative Stock Market on July 28. Strategic expansion plan envisages the development of Ciudad de la [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content