Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mike Reiss 'The Simpsons' Writer Interview

A Bristol native was welcomed home Thursday night to speak to speak in a place where he once was asked to keep quiet.
Mike Reiss returned to Bristol Library to speak to fans, family and friends as a successful writer and producer for numerous projects, most notably the long-running animated television show "The Simpsons."
Reiss grew up in Bristol and graduated from Bristol Eastern High School. He always had a passion in writing, spending his weekends and afternoons at Bristol Public Library."I would spend most of my time here and the librarian working there would always tell me not to talk. Now, being years later, the same lady called me and asked me to come and talk," said Reiss.
Reiss travels all over the world giving speeches, something that he looks forward to and also something fans appreciate.
"I love doing this and traveling around. I have been to China to give a speech, but it did not go over too well. It was two days after 9/11 and it was hard to get laughs," said Reiss.Reiss has been working on "The Simpsons" for 18 years, and out of those 18 years he ran the show for two.
"I ran the show for the third and fourth season. It was tough. I was working 100 hours a week and I lost 70 pounds from doing that," said Reiss. "My friend Al Jean is currently running the show."
Since "The Simpsons" debuted back in 1989, it was an early hit for the then-new Fox network and it set the bar for animated television. Since then, we have had shows come such as "Family Guy," which is another hit for Fox. But when "Family Guy" aired, Simpsons fans were skeptical, and felt it was a Simpson knockoff.
"I love 'Family Guy.' It's fresh and it has really grown as its own show," said Reiss."Family Guy" has grown since "The Simpsons" paved the way for animated shows. "The Simpsons" showed that cartoons can be grown up and it was OK for adults to watch them.
Of course, Reiss was asked the question, where is Springfield? That is something fans have been trying to figure out since the show began. "Springfield is nowhere; there is no logical place Springfield can be," said Reiss, then added an example of why Springfield can be nowhere. "There is an episode I was watching in the reruns. In this episode it shows Homer shoveling snow and in a couple of scenes later he is laying on a hammock having a drink."
Springfield may not be anywhere, but that does not mean it is not based on any town in the United States."
A lot of people come up to me and ask me where do I get my ideas about a town full of bad teachers and lazy cops. I tell those people that I am from Bristol, Connecticut," Reiss said with a smile.
Homer Simpson, the father of the Simpson family, is a character that gets into a lot of crazy schemes and outrageous situations. Many wonder, where do the writers come up with these story lines.
"With Homer, I will say a lot of my friends' fathers have their moments on the show," said Reiss, as he laughed."
The Simpsons" will be airing its 400th episode at the end of May. The show has been running for 18 seasons and Reiss said there is no end in sight.
"I don't know how we will end 'The Simpsons,' and right now there is no end in sight. We may be not as fresh as we were when we first started, but the show is still good," said Reiss.
Reiss also brought up "The Simpsons Movie," which will be released July 27.
"I can't say anything about the movie, because it is top secret. I will say this though, it will not be live action," said Reiss.
Being a writer for "The Simpsons" does not mean he likes every episode that has been made, there are two he really does not like at all.
"I do not like the episode where they go to Africa. Then, the other episode I don't like is the classic Frank Grimes episode. I just think the episode was in bad taste," said Reiss of the show in which Grimes, a disgruntled nuclear plant worker, is killed.
With the 400th episode airing in May and the movie coming out in July, it will be a big year for the family from Springfield. Fans do not have to worry. The movie does not mean the end of the series, if anything the movie will be one of many more milestone to come in "The Simpsons" history.

(Article ran back in 2007)

No comments: