The Simpsons is going LIVE! Yes, that's right — for the first time ever in an animation series, Fox will be broadcasting a very special live segment at the end of the May 15th episode.
At the end of the show, Homer will take three minutes to comment on current events and answer viewer questions — but how?! The show's executive producer and showrunner, Al Jean, has already answered that one. Homer will be live thanks to motion capture technology. In an interview with CNNMoney on Tuesday, Al said:
"Dan Castellaneta will be in the studio and not only what he says will go out live, but the motions he makes will be incorporated in what Homer does on screen. He'll be saying something current like, 'can you believe Donald Trump shot a man today' or whatever is going on. I just thought, 'wow, we have the technology... yeah, why not be the first. This is exactly why we still do the show, so we can do stuff like this."
The episode itself — which took eight months to produce — will run like any other before turning over to Homer in both the East and West Coast broadcasts. It's a big ask for Dan Castellaneta but Al isn't worried. He went on to say:
"As far as I know, this is the first time that's been done by any animated show...[but] Dan is a great improviser."
This is an exciting first for the show, and looking at this shot from 'The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show' episode broadcast in 1997, technology has come a long way in order to make this happen.
After winning the part of Poochie on The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Homer arrives for his first day and as good as predicts a live show. In a conversation with producer, Roger and the voice of Itchy & Scratchy, June Bellamy, he comes right out and says it.
Roger Myers Jr.: "You folks ready to begin?"
Homer: "Uh, I guess. Is this episode going on the air live?"
June Bellamy: "No, Homer. Very few cartoons are broadcast live. It's a terrible strain on the animators' wrists."
This clip from Homer's cameo as Poochie in The Itchy & Scratchy Show will take you right back to when the episode aired in 1997. Oh, how things are about to change.
If the producers manage to pull it off, this could be a pretty historical moment for TV animation and who knows which show could utilize the technology next?
It seems that an increasing number of TV networks are focusing more on live moments and events. As it turns out, the Simpsons team has been talking about the idea for a while but were inspired by Fox's recent three-hour live musical, Grease: Live!, which raked in over 12 million viewers, to finally make it happen.
It looks like live TV action is here to stay, and while you're contemplating that thought, if you've got something you're dying to ask your favorite yellow simpleton, you can tweet him using #HomerLive between May 1 and May 4. The questions have already started pouring in. Here are some examples: