The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and key members of his production crew sat down before a packed ballroom in the San Diego Convention Center during Comic-Con Int’l. to discuss the popular show’s 15-year history, its current direction and its future. Joining Greoning on the panel were exec producer Al Jean, writer/producer Matt Selman, producer Don Payne, writer Matt Warburton, producer Bonnie Pietila and producer/director David Silverman.
Probed for information about the upcoming season, Al Jean revealed that one of his favorite episodes is one in which Lisa gets a restraining order against Bart and has to watch a tape titled "So You’ve Got a Restraining Order," narrated by actor Gary Busey. Groening also noted that reclusive American writer and public figure Thomas Pynchon and A Brief History of Time author Stephen Hawking will both return for guest appearances.
As for the long-term plans for the series, Groening stated, "The show will go on for at least another couple seasons and probably a couple more after that." He then drew uproarious applause by adding, "I see no end in sight."
Asked about the proposed Simpsons feature film, Jean assured the crowd but suggested that it may still be a long way off. "We are working on a movie but we don’t want to compromise the show at the same time." Groening then jested with the audience, asking, "You guys would pay $10 to watch a bunch of clips, right?"
In addition to a big-screen Simpsons outing, fans have been clamoring for more seasons on DVD. To this, Groening responded, "Unlike a lot of other contemporary TV shows, we don’t want to rush them out with commentary on just a few episodes. But we are streamlining the process so that the next seasons will come out a lot quicker."
Groening may make digs at a certain subculture with his Comic Book Guy character in The Simpsons, but the Comic-Con fixture assured the crowd that he has nothing but love for the annual event. "I’ve never talked about this before, but every year I come, I get invigorated and inspired by all the wonderful things I see."
The presentation wrapped up with clips from a recent episode of The Simpsons, in which Groening makes a cameo as the whole Simpsons clan visits a science fiction convention that looks all too familiar.