Hard Drinkin' Lincoln

I attended a lecture at Villanova University last night which was quite interesting. The speaker was Mike Reiss, one of the writer/producers of the Simpsons (among various other stints at The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and the ever-popular Alf). He doesn't work at the Simpsons as much as he used to, but still hangs around the offices occasionally. Some interesting tidbits* from the lecture:
  • On Maude Flanders death: "The character just sucked. She sucked and the woman who voiced her wanted a raise... so we killed her."
  • On the rumored Simpsons Movie: "Its in the contract that a Simpson's movie must be written by Matt Groening himself." Apparently, Matt Groening doesl literally nothing with the show anymore, and he never has done much, so Mike said we shouldn't expect movies anytime soon.
  • Since the Simpsons, he has had a few pet projects, one of which was two series of cartoons for the now defunct Icebox.com. The animated shorts were called "Hard Drinkin' Lincoln" and "Queer Duck". They were quite entertaining. (sorry, but I couldn't find any of them online)
  • In the Q & A, someone from the audience asked if the Simpson's writers (and the way they used to shock people in earlier episodes) were influenced by the Dada movement of the early 20th century. Mike laughed and said "We're just dirty".
  • Mike was one of the creators of Troy McLure; You might remember him from such movies as "The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel" and "'P' is for Psycho".
  • Mr. Smithers was originally black (observe the first few episodes closely, and you can see the "black" Smithers), but they thought having him be the servant of an old, rich, white guy could be offensive. So they made him white, gay, and in love with Mr. Burns.
  • Mr. Burns' character wasn't always supposed to be evil. The evil parts are based on Fox president Barry Diller.
  • How could they get away with [insert offensive antics here]? "Hey, we work for Fox."
  • Conan O'Brien is funny (even after a 16 hour workday).
Theres lots more that I can't remember at the moment, but it was a good time and I enjoyed myself immensely. If you ever get a chance to see this guy speak, check him out.

* - I'm going from memory here, so some of the quotes might be a little off, but you get the gist of it.