Al Jean

Writer / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Al Jean discusses his decision to become a comedy writer. He recalls his first professional writing job for the feature film "Airplane 2", and speaks of his first television job writing jokes for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He chronicles writing for several television shows in the '80s, including HBO's Not Necessarily the News, ALF, Charles in Charge, It's Garry Shandling's Show and Sledge Hammer!. He describes becoming involved with The Simpsons and establishing the show's characters and tone during its early years. He delves into the rich history of the show, explains how it has developed and changed over the years, and shares how the writers keep it fresh. Jean speaks of leaving The Simpsons to create the animated series The Critic with Jon Lovitz and returning to The Simpsons when that show didn't work out. He discusses writing animated series for the web and concludes by discussing his advice to aspiring writers and where he sees himself in the future. Amy Harrington conducted the interview on March 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. 

"I'd like to think that 'The Simpsons' made popular culture smarter and that it actually encouraged people to look things up."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Al Jean on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Al Jean on leaving The Simpsons in season five and creating The Critic
Al Jean on the legacy of The Simpsons
Al Jean on The Simpsons' 500th episode
Al Jean on writing the Halloween episodes of The Simpsons
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on deciding to become a comedy writer; on writing for Charles in Charge and Sledge Hammer!
On working as a story editor; on writing for Not Necessarily the News, ALF and It's Garry Shandling's Show
On writing for The Tonight Show and It's Garry Shandling's Show
On developing The Simpsons; on the town of Springfield and the tone of The Simpsons

Chapter 2

On the opening credits and theme music on The Simpsons; on the characters and catchphrases of The Simpsons
On The Simpsons and broadcast standards; on how The Simpsons characters have changed over the years; on the writing process for the show
On the voiceover sessions for The Simpsons; on the original Simpsons creative team: James L. Brooks, Sam Simon and Matt Groening; on changing animation studios for the show after season four
On how technology has changed The Simpsons; on The Simpsons and The Emmy Awards; on classic episodes of the show

Chapter 3

On The Simpsons' 500th episode; on the songs of The Simpsons and keeping the show fresh; on the longevity, legacy, and then-future of The Simpsons
On creating and running The Critic; on writing various other shows for the web; on advice to aspiring writers and to those interested in animation
Shows

ALF

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Al Jean on writing for ALF and It's Garry Shandling's Show

Charles in Charge

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Al Jean on writing for Charles in Charge and Sledge Hammer!

Critic, The

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Al Jean on leaving The Simpsons in season five and creating The Critic
Al Jean on creating and writing The Critic
Al Jean on pitching The Critic to the network and running the show
Al Jean on reviving The Critic on the Internet and other web projects

It's Garry Shandling's Show.

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Al Jean on writing for ALF and It's Garry Shandling's Show
Al Jean on writing for It's Garry Shandling's Show

Not Necessarily the News

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Al Jean on writing for Not Necessarily the News

Simpsons, The

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Al Jean on becoming involved with writing The Simpsons
Al Jean on the animation style of The Simpsons
Al Jean on developing The Simpsons
Al Jean on the town of Springfield on The Simpsons
Al Jean on establishing the tone of The Simpsons
Al Jean on the early years of The Simpsons at FOX
Al Jean on the opening credits of The Simpsons
Al Jean on the names of The Simpsons characters and Matt Groening's involvement
Al Jean on the voices and catchphrases of The Simpsons
Al Jean on Julie Kavner as "Marge Simpson" on The Simpsons
Al Jean on Nancy Cartwright as "Bart Simpson" on The Simpsons
Al Jean on the catchphrases of The Simpsons
Al Jean on broadcast standards and The Simpsons
Al Jean on the various side characters on The Simpsons
Al Jean on how The Simpsons characters have changed over the years
Al Jean on writing for "Lisa Simpson" and basing Simpsons stories on his real life
Al Jean on the writing process for The Simpsons
Al Jean on writing the Halloween episodes of The Simpsons
Al Jean on the production process of The Simpsons
Al Jean on being a showrunner on The Simpsons
Al Jean on the voiceover sessions for The Simpsons
Al Jean on working with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon on The Simpsons
Al Jean on replacing Sam Simon as showrunner on The Simpsons
Al Jean on changing animation studios in season four of The Simpsons
Al Jean on leaving The Simpsons in season five and creating The Critic
Al Jean on how technology has changed the animation process of The Simpsons
Al Jean on Simpsons ancillary products and Emmy Awards for The Simpsons
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge"
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "Blame it on Lisa"
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "There's Something About Marrying"
Al Jean on The Simpsons' 500th episode
Al Jean on his favorite episodes of The Simpsons and guest stars on the show
Al Jean on the songs of The Simpsons
Al Jean on keeping The Simpsons fresh
Al Jean on how the audience of The Simpsons has evolved over the years; on the longevity of the show
Al Jean on The Simpsons' effect on popular culture
Al Jean on the then-future of The Simpsons and cast negotiations
Al Jean on the legacy of The Simpsons

Sledge Hammer!

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Al Jean on writing for Charles in Charge and Sledge Hammer!

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Al Jean on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Al Jean on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
Topics

Advice

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Al Jean on advice for aspiring writers and for those who want to get into animation

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Al Jean on broadcast standards and The Simpsons

Characters & Catchphrases

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Al Jean on Julie Kavner as "Marge Simpson" on The Simpsons
Al Jean on Nancy Cartwright as "Bart Simpson" on The Simpsons
Al Jean on the names of The Simpsons characters and Matt Groening's involvement
Al Jean on the voices and catchphrases of The Simpsons
Al Jean on the catchphrases of The Simpsons

Classic TV series episodes

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Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "There's Something About Marrying"
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "Blame it on Lisa"
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge"

Comedy

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Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "There's Something About Marrying"
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "Blame it on Lisa"
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge"

Emmy Awards

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Al Jean on The Simpsons ancillary products and Emmy Awards

First Big Break

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Al Jean on getting his first job in television

Pivotal Career Moments

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Al Jean on getting his first job in television
Al Jean on becoming involved with writing The Simpsons

Pop Culture

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Al Jean on the town of Springfield on The Simpsons
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "There's Something About Marrying"
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "Blame it on Lisa"
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge"
Al Jean on Julie Kavner as "Marge Simpson" on The Simpsons
Al Jean on Nancy Cartwright as "Bart Simpson" on The Simpsons
Al Jean on the opening credits of The Simpsons
Al Jean on the names of The Simpsons characters and Matt Groening's involvement
Al Jean on the voices and catchphrases of The Simpsons
Al Jean on the catchphrases of The Simpsons
Al Jean on The Simpsons' effect on popular culture

TV Theme Songs

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Al Jean on the opening credits of The Simpsons

Technological Innovation

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Al Jean on how technology has changed the animation process of The Simpsons

Television Industry

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Al Jean on broadcast standards and The Simpsons
Al Jean on advice for aspiring writers and for those who want to get into animation
Professions

Writers

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Al Jean on his writing process
Al Jean on advice for aspiring writers and for those who want to get into animation
Genres

Animation

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Al Jean on writing for and becoming a showrunner on The Simpsons
Al Jean on writing and being showrunner on The Simpsons
Al Jean on writing and being showrunner on The Simpsons
Al Jean on creating and writing The Critic

Comedy Series

View Genre
Al Jean on writing for and becoming a showrunner on The Simpsons
Al Jean on writing and being showrunner on The Simpsons
Al Jean on writing and being showrunner on The Simpsons
Al Jean on creating and writing The Critic
People

James L. Brooks

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Al Jean on working with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon on The Simpsons

Johnny Carson

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Al Jean on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

Nancy Cartwright

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Al Jean on Nancy Cartwright as "Bart Simpson"

Matt Groening

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Al Jean on the names of The Simpsons characters and Matt Groening's involvement
Al Jean on working with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon on The Simpsons

Julie Kavner

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Al Jean on Julie Kavner as "Marge Simpson"

Jon Lovitz

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Al Jean on creating and writing The Critic

Garry Shandling

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Al Jean on writing for It's Garry Shandling's Show

Sam Simon

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Al Jean on working with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon on The Simpsons
Al Jean on replacing Sam Simon as showrunner on The Simpsons

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