Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Franzen, Homer Simpson
November 30, 2005 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Tom Wolfe is screaming. "Aaaaaaaahh! Wait, no, that wasn't good, let me start over." "How did you scream last time a boulder was hurtling toward you?" asks Carolyn Omine, executive producer of The Simpsons. Slowly, Wolfe transforms. Even now, this episode's director, Mark Kirkland, is circling Wolfe, snapping pictures. Soon, a team of animators will render Wolfe bug-eyed and yellow-skinned. A year from now Wolfe -- with fellow guest stars Gore Vidal, Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen -- will appear on television alongside Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and the bartender Moe in an episode of "The Simpsons" parodying highfalutin literary culture.
posted by PenguinBukkake (32 comments total)

 
The session's Emmy-worthy performances are wordless strings of yelps and grunts. After reading and rereading their lines, the writers take turns making fight noises like "urrrrrg!" and "ugh!" and "ouch!" Chabon throws his whole body into it, lunging at the microphone, while Franzen keeps a dry, acerbic cool. Omine, the producer, reads them their cues, and writers sitting around the room toss out ideas as they occur.

Franzen: "Gaa! Dajjjmit! Ach! Rrrr!"

Writer: "How about, 'Nooo! My prescription-less glasses, the ones I wear to look smart!' "

Franzen: "My trademark glasses!"

Omine: "Let's continue with Jonathan, because you have to whack Michael with a chair. Some more pain sounds, please."

Writer: "How about saying, 'You fight like Anne Rice!' "

Eventually, it's time to encounter that same runaway granite chunk that flattened Tom Wolfe. Franzen's scream has a hint of falsetto; Chabon writhes as he lets out an anguished moan.

...


"My kids and my father are very excited," Chabon says. He's not kidding. Reached later by phone, his father, Robert Chabon, said that he always expected Michael to win a Pulitzer (which he did in 2001 for "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"). "And I still think he's going to win the National Book Award," said the Kansas City, Kan., pediatrician. "But him being on 'The Simpsons' is beyond my wildest dreams. You envision certain successes for your children, but this kind of success — I never envisioned."
Same story here and here
posted by PenguinBukkake at 7:21 AM on November 30, 2005


The Simpsons hasn't been funny for nine years.
posted by interrobang at 7:24 AM on November 30, 2005


The Simpsons hasn't been funny for nine years.

They've been running new episodes in the last nine years? Every time I tried to watch one, I got the feeling I'd already seen one like it three times.
posted by Godbert at 7:25 AM on November 30, 2005


so don't watch.
posted by jonmc at 7:25 AM on November 30, 2005


I'm sorry, i love the simpsons, but this FPP is just lame.
posted by yonation at 7:28 AM on November 30, 2005


I'm so tempted to riff out "Metafilter: The Simpsons hasn't been funny for nine years." But I really don't want to insult Metafilter's collective credibility that severely.

Otoh, I do anticipate at least a few "dude, FPP wtf?" posts, and wouldn't entirely disagree with them...
posted by lodurr at 7:29 AM on November 30, 2005


The Simpson's hasn't been funny for nine years.

Complete derail.

However, the worst Simpson's episodes are the ones with special guest stars... so I have low expectations for this one.

Further, Franzen has a long way to go before he can be in the same room with Vidal and Wolfe.
posted by wfrgms at 7:29 AM on November 30, 2005


This might be fun. When does it air?

(Jonathan Franzen is one of my favorite authors.)
posted by caddis at 7:32 AM on November 30, 2005


The show was clever, and more importantly, subtle, once upon a time. Now it's all about the obvious, and how to squeeze the guest star(s) of the week into the "plot." In conclusion, feh.
posted by Gator at 7:37 AM on November 30, 2005


... the worst Simpson's episodes ...

A lot of them, sure. But what about Hank Scorpio?

And I do enjoy the Ron Howard cameos. Gotta love the perpetual martini and ratty bathrobe. I remember reading somewhere that Howard inisisted that they had to make him "look bad".
posted by lodurr at 7:38 AM on November 30, 2005


Give me a Mailer-Vidal feud reference and I'll be happy.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:40 AM on November 30, 2005


Metafilter has credibility?
posted by odinsdream at 7:48 AM on November 30, 2005


I heard prince wanted to be on the show, but actualy mailed in his own script.
posted by delmoi at 7:52 AM on November 30, 2005


Metafilter: Because bitching about FPPs is totally cool.
posted by symphonik at 7:56 AM on November 30, 2005


Metafilter: The Simpsons stopped being cool before we were born.
posted by lodurr at 8:08 AM on November 30, 2005


MetaFilter: because striking an ironic pose bitching about people complaining about FPPs is totally the coolest.
posted by yonation at 8:10 AM on November 30, 2005


Pynchon was on the show a few years ago. It was his first public appearance ever, I think.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:26 AM on November 30, 2005


We previously talked about The Simpson's decline in this thread, and a lot of people made some very good points.
posted by cyphill at 8:41 AM on November 30, 2005


What does Tom Wolfe have to do with "highfalutin literary culture"?
posted by davy at 8:44 AM on November 30, 2005


Yeah, I agree about the simpsons not being that great in the past few years, and how guest stars just make it worse, but Ron Howard scenes are awesomly funny.

Ron speaking to Homer: You have children? Here have some money.
posted by parallax7d at 8:57 AM on November 30, 2005


Someone get the sharp objects away from Ben Marcus. I sense a rumble comin' on.
Confession: I like Marcus's writing.
posted by safetyfork at 8:59 AM on November 30, 2005


I hate it when that happens.
posted by safetyfork at 9:04 AM on November 30, 2005


Hasn't Tom Wolfe already been on an episode? He was at a book fair or something doing a signing and his white suit was ruined. Something along these lines.
posted by aburd at 10:34 AM on November 30, 2005


i think that may have been updike
posted by yonation at 10:46 AM on November 30, 2005


Hasn't Tom Wolfe already been animated (though not voice acted) on the Simpsons?

From the episode Insane Clown Poppy:
"% At Timothy Lovejoy's stand, he's promoting his book "Someone's in the
% Kitchen with Jesus". Marge tries a stigmuffin, and Homer tries Mary
% Magdalene's chocolate orgasm, an eclair. When Homer bites it, the chocolate
% filling squirts out of it and hits Tom Wolfe's white suit. He tears off
% the suit revealing an identical suit underneath."

posted by Sangermaine at 10:48 AM on November 30, 2005


Oh, uh, what aburd said...
posted by Sangermaine at 10:49 AM on November 30, 2005


That episode actually had some pretty good literary-type zingers in it, like this one (I'm paraphrasing):

Announcer: ...and now, Maya Angelou.
Moe (stunned): Wait, Maya Angelou is black?!??
posted by whir at 11:07 AM on November 30, 2005


Pynchon was on the show a few years ago. It was his first public appearance ever, I think.

Yeah, with a bag on his head. I got such a kick out of that. More here.
posted by spiderwire at 12:19 PM on November 30, 2005


Oh god. The guest stars just keep getting more and more ridiculous. I mean, Gore Vidal? That's as bad as when they ran into J.K. Rowling for no discernable reason (except that they happened to be in England at the time).

Let the damn show die already, Fox.
posted by Target Practice at 5:16 PM on November 30, 2005


Simpsons is still better than 99% of anything on TV, but I was gonna say I've seen this episode already. Must have been that book fair one, which was quite funny.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:05 PM on December 1, 2005


Oh, and Jonathan Franzen is an overrated hack. So is Chabon. Wolfe still rules (though even I didn't bother with Charlotte Simmons).
posted by mrgrimm at 5:07 PM on December 1, 2005


Can't you people just say "worst. episode. ever" and get it over with?
posted by stevil at 9:16 PM on December 2, 2005


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