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."

Highlights
Al Jean on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
06:00
Al Jean on leaving The Simpsons in season five and creating The Critic
03:50
Al Jean on the legacy of The Simpsons
01:52
Al Jean on The Simpsons' 500th episode
01:07
Al Jean on writing the Halloween episodes of The Simpsons
01:10
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
03:35

Charles in Charge

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Al Jean on writing for Charles in Charge and Sledge Hammer!
02:29

Critic, The

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Al Jean on leaving The Simpsons in season five and creating The Critic
03:50
Al Jean on creating and writing The Critic
04:39
Al Jean on pitching The Critic to the network and running the show
02:25
Al Jean on reviving The Critic on the Internet and other web projects
03:36

It's Garry Shandling's Show.

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Al Jean on writing for ALF and It's Garry Shandling's Show
01:33
Al Jean on writing for It's Garry Shandling's Show
11:19

Not Necessarily the News

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Al Jean on writing for Not Necessarily the News
04:59

Simpsons, The

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Al Jean on becoming involved with writing The Simpsons
01:56
Al Jean on the animation style of The Simpsons
03:50
Al Jean on developing The Simpsons
02:26
Al Jean on the town of Springfield on The Simpsons
01:21
Al Jean on establishing the tone of The Simpsons
04:01
Al Jean on the early years of The Simpsons at FOX
01:55
Al Jean on the opening credits of The Simpsons
01:39
Al Jean on the names of The Simpsons characters and Matt Groening's involvement
01:41
Al Jean on the voices and catchphrases of The Simpsons
02:09
Al Jean on Julie Kavner as "Marge Simpson" on The Simpsons
01:32
Al Jean on Nancy Cartwright as "Bart Simpson" on The Simpsons
01:43
Al Jean on the catchphrases of The Simpsons
02:41
Al Jean on broadcast standards and The Simpsons
02:54
Al Jean on the various side characters on The Simpsons
02:14
Al Jean on how The Simpsons characters have changed over the years
03:18
Al Jean on writing for "Lisa Simpson" and basing Simpsons stories on his real life
02:29
Al Jean on the writing process for The Simpsons
03:54
Al Jean on writing the Halloween episodes of The Simpsons
01:10
Al Jean on the production process of The Simpsons
02:23
Al Jean on being a showrunner on The Simpsons
02:37
Al Jean on the voiceover sessions for The Simpsons
00:32
Al Jean on working with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon on The Simpsons
04:28
Al Jean on replacing Sam Simon as showrunner on The Simpsons
02:38
Al Jean on changing animation studios in season four of The Simpsons
01:06
Al Jean on leaving The Simpsons in season five and creating The Critic
03:50
Al Jean on how technology has changed the animation process of The Simpsons
02:07
Al Jean on Simpsons ancillary products and Emmy Awards for The Simpsons
04:15
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge"
01:11
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "Blame it on Lisa"
00:43
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "There's Something About Marrying"
01:55
Al Jean on The Simpsons' 500th episode
01:07
Al Jean on his favorite episodes of The Simpsons and guest stars on the show
02:39
Al Jean on the songs of The Simpsons
01:18
Al Jean on keeping The Simpsons fresh
01:40
Al Jean on how the audience of The Simpsons has evolved over the years; on the longevity of the show
01:26
Al Jean on The Simpsons' effect on popular culture
01:03
Al Jean on the then-future of The Simpsons and cast negotiations
02:04
Al Jean on the legacy of The Simpsons
01:52

Sledge Hammer!

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Al Jean on writing for Charles in Charge and Sledge Hammer!
02:29

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Al Jean on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
01:45
Al Jean on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
06:00
Topics

Advice

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Al Jean on advice for aspiring writers and for those who want to get into animation
01:47

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Al Jean on broadcast standards and The Simpsons
02:54

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Al Jean on Julie Kavner as "Marge Simpson" on The Simpsons
01:32
Al Jean on Nancy Cartwright as "Bart Simpson" on The Simpsons
01:43
Al Jean on the names of The Simpsons characters and Matt Groening's involvement
01:41
Al Jean on the voices and catchphrases of The Simpsons
02:09
Al Jean on the catchphrases of The Simpsons
02:41

Classic TV series episodes

View Topic
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "There's Something About Marrying"
01:55
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "Blame it on Lisa"
00:43
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge"
01:11

Comedy

View Topic
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "There's Something About Marrying"
01:55
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "Blame it on Lisa"
00:43
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge"
01:11

Emmy Awards

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Al Jean on The Simpsons ancillary products and Emmy Awards
04:15

First Big Break

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Al Jean on getting his first job in television
02:42

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Al Jean on getting his first job in television
02:42
Al Jean on becoming involved with writing The Simpsons
01:56

Pop Culture

View Topic
Al Jean on the town of Springfield on The Simpsons
01:21
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "There's Something About Marrying"
01:55
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "Blame it on Lisa"
00:43
Al Jean on The Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge"
01:11
Al Jean on Julie Kavner as "Marge Simpson" on The Simpsons
01:32
Al Jean on Nancy Cartwright as "Bart Simpson" on The Simpsons
01:43
Al Jean on the opening credits of The Simpsons
01:39
Al Jean on the names of The Simpsons characters and Matt Groening's involvement
01:41
Al Jean on the voices and catchphrases of The Simpsons
02:09
Al Jean on the catchphrases of The Simpsons
02:41
Al Jean on The Simpsons' effect on popular culture
01:03

TV Theme Songs

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Al Jean on the opening credits of The Simpsons
01:39

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Al Jean on how technology has changed the animation process of The Simpsons
02:07

Television Industry

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Al Jean on broadcast standards and The Simpsons
02:54
Al Jean on advice for aspiring writers and for those who want to get into animation
01:47
Professions

Writers

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Al Jean on his writing process
00:55
Al Jean on advice for aspiring writers and for those who want to get into animation
01:47
Genres

Animation

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Al Jean on writing for and becoming a showrunner on The Simpsons
01:56
Al Jean on writing and being showrunner on The Simpsons
58:59
Al Jean on writing and being showrunner on The Simpsons
13:10
Al Jean on creating and writing The Critic
10:40

Comedy Series

View Genre
Al Jean on writing for and becoming a showrunner on The Simpsons
01:56
Al Jean on writing and being showrunner on The Simpsons
58:59
Al Jean on writing and being showrunner on The Simpsons
13:10
Al Jean on creating and writing The Critic
10:40
People

James L. Brooks

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Al Jean on working with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon on The Simpsons
04:28

Johnny Carson

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Al Jean on writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
06:00

Nancy Cartwright

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Al Jean on Nancy Cartwright as "Bart Simpson"
01:43

Matt Groening

View Person Page
Al Jean on the names of The Simpsons characters and Matt Groening's involvement
01:41
Al Jean on working with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon on The Simpsons
04:28

Julie Kavner

View Person Page
Al Jean on Julie Kavner as "Marge Simpson"
01:32

Jon Lovitz

View Person Page
Al Jean on creating and writing The Critic
04:39

Garry Shandling

View Interview Page
Al Jean on writing for It's Garry Shandling's Show
11:19

Sam Simon

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Al Jean on working with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon on The Simpsons
04:28
Al Jean on replacing Sam Simon as showrunner on The Simpsons
02:38

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