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How Homer Will Make His Live Debut on ‘The Simpsons’

How Homer Will Make His Live Debut on 'The Simpsons'

After 27 seasons, Homer Simpson’s ready for a little live improv, thanks to the latest mocap tech applied to Emmy-winning voice actor Dan Castellaneta.

Inspired by the recent success of live TV musicals (“Grease,” “The Wiz”), Homer will grab the mic at the conclusion of Sunday’s “Simprovised” episode to answer fan questions about the Presidential race and whatever else inquiring fans want to know.

It’s part of a story dealing with improv. After Homer flubs a speech at the nuclear plant, Marge takes him to a comedy club to cheer him up and he becomes a confident stand-up comic. For instance, when given the premise, the Queen of Norway buying a car, Homer responds, “I’m sorry, I can’t — I fjord it.” 

READ MORE: The Five Greatest Segments from ‘The Simpsons’ ‘Treehouse of Horror’ Episodes

“It was [writer/producer] John Frink’s idea to go live on the air [during both the East Coast and West Coast broadcasts],” said exec produce Al Jean. “There are three rules: You have to be over 18, the questions are for Homer only and they have to be about current events.”

The deadline for submitting questions was last week and Homer will hold up a newspaper from Sunday to prove that he’s live. 

Castellaneta will be motion-captured in real-time in a recording booth using Adobe software tweaked by Fox Sports. Jean said they first toyed with the idea of mocapping the characters for “The Simpsons Movie” in 2007 but it was too crude back then. Now, though, it’s fluid enough to pull off for three minutes, as they seamlessly translate the actor’s performance into Homer’s motions onto a fixed animated background (with pre-programmed lip assignments).

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Jean figures they’ll have enough time to reel off four or five answers, and the tests have gone smoothly so far. Then again, you never know what can happen with live TV.

Meanwhile, Sunday marks the 595th episode of “The Simpsons,”  which trails “Gunsmoke” by 40 episodes for the all-time prime-time scripted series record. The current Fox agreement runs through episode 625 in the fall of next year while the actors are under contract through 30 seasons. Maybe they can arrange to go totally live for the record.

Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV news email newsletter here. Meanwhile, a clip from another stunt on “The Simpsons”:

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