15 Fantastic Facts About Making Fox's Animated Comedies
From the initial sketch that sealed the deal for King of the Hill, to the origins of Futurama and Elizabeth Taylor once cursing a producer of The Simpsons — here are some fascinating facts about the making of some of the most iconic animations on FOX.
The Simpsons: The Critic Episode
A reminder that Matt Groening was so angry at the inclusion of The Critic in “A Star is Burns” — he saw it as nothing more than an advertising stunt — that he removed his name from the credits of the episode.
Executive producer James L. Brooks was furious at Groening for taking his grievances public, once commenting: “I am furious with Matt. He’s been going to everybody who wears a suit at Fox and complaining about this … This has been my worst fear, that the Matt we know privately is going public. He is a gifted, adorable, cuddly ingrate. But his behavior right now is rotten. And it’s not pretty when a rich man acts like this.”
King Of The Hill: The Pitch
When creators Mike Judge and Greg Daniels pitched their animated sitcom to FOX, they created a pencil sketch of Hank, his family, and others to illustrate the concept of the show. You can watch it here:
American Dad: The Actors Couldn’t Be In A Room Together
While the voice actors joked that they couldn’t record together because they’d just never get any work done, it proved difficult to get everyone’s schedules to coincide, so they ended up doing all their individual recordings alone.
Bob’s Burgers: The Theme Song
Creator Loren Bouchard was playing around on his ukulele one night at his animation studio in San Francisco, which was situated on top of a nightclub.
The drum-and-bass sounds kept interrupting him, so he tried to incorporate them into a song he was working on. That song became the theme song of the show’s opening sequence.
Futurama: The New York World Fair Of 1939
Matt Groening’s show was named after a real-world attraction at the NY World Fair called “World of Tomorrow,” a huge model built to illustrate what the future might look like in the ‘60s.
Family Guy: The Real Peter Griffin
Seth Macfarlane based his main protagonist on a security guard named Paul Timmins, who worked at the Rhode Island School of Design, where Macfarlane studied back in the day. The creator said that Timmins had a “big thick Rhode Island accent” and had “absolutely no self-editing whatsoever.” Timmins has said that he’s proud to be Griffin’s inspiration.
King Of The Hill: Hank Is Based On A Professor’s Book
Co-creator Greg Daniels told the show’s writers to read Georgetown law professor Philip K. Howard’s best-selling book, The Death of Common Sense. The book argues that law and bureaucracy make people lose their common sense, and Daniels wanted Hank Hill to embody this type of thinking.
Bob’s Burgers: A Darker Original Concept
Initially, creator Loren Bouchard saw the Belchers as a family who ran a restaurant … and were also cannibals. “There was a brief period when I first started talking to them — because I was coming off of doing Lucy: Daughter Of The Devil, and I had this kind of more occult-y, sort of darker edge to the way I was thinking then,” Bouchard told the AV Club. “I did pitch the show (as) a family of cannibals who runs a restaurant. There’s sort of a Sweeney Todd aspect to it. They basically said ‘everything but the cannibalism,’ and that included the cast.”
The Simpsons: Elizabeth Taylor And Maggie’s First Word
The iconic actress was brought in to say the baby’s first word, and executive producer Al Jean once recounted the memorable occasion: “Usually for the records, the room was almost empty — we’d have the cast and then a couple writers. That day, the recording stage was completely filled. She came in, she had a little dog, and she wore her ring, which was huge. It cost more than my house. We had her do the one line where she said ‘Daddy’ as Maggie. I’m looking at the ‘Most Beautiful Woman in the World,’ trying to think, ‘What does that sound like coming out of a cute little baby?’ I asked her for a lot of takes because it’s very hard to know what you want on one word, but she was really funny about it. After I said, ‘Okay, we got it!’ she said ‘F**k you!’ in the Maggie voice. She was kidding. Everybody laughed. She lived up to everything you would expect Elizabeth Taylor to be.”
Futurama: A Year, An Episode
Producer David X. Cohen said that every single episode took about a full year to make from beginning to end. “It's such a long feedback loop,” Cohen told The Atlantic. “We write something, and we don't know what the fans are going to think — or even what we're going to think, when our minds are clear of it, and we watch it a year later. You write an episode, you watch it a year later and decide, ‘Oh, I like that, I'm going to keep going in that direction’ and write another episode — that's not on for another year. So it's really a two-year feedback loop, at minimum.”
King Of The Hill: Boomhauer's Voice
Mike Judge said that the fast-talking character was based on an angry call he once got from a guy who apparently thought Beavis and Butt-Head was called “Porky’s Butthole.” Check out the hilarious retelling of the story on Jimmy Kimmel Live!:
American Dad: The Movie That Was Scrapped
Showrunner Matt Weitzman revealed that the proposed feature would've seen the Smith family going to Roger’s home planet. The film was eventually canned because they wanted to focus on a new season instead.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie: Deleted Scene
There’s an exclusive deleted scene on the movie’s DVD which gives a brief history of the wharf. You can watch it here:
King Of The Hill: Lucky Was Tom Petty Even Before Tom Petty Came On Board
Producer John Altschuler came up with the character of Lucky, pitching him as “Tom Petty without the success.” “And we thought, what if we tried to get Tom Petty?,” Mike Judge told the Chicago Tribune. “And he (Petty) said, ‘Yeah, I'll do it.’ And he was great, just killed at the table read. Then he said, any time you want me to do it, I'll do it. Turns out he really meant it.”
The Simpsons: The Origin Of Homer’s “D’oh!”
Initially, the “d’oh” sound that Homer so loves to make was written in the script simply as “annoying grunt.” Voice actor Dan Castellaneta explained that he came up with the sound based on the Laurel and Hardy movies and that he simply shortened their use of “d’ooooooh.”
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