Wednesday, December 30, 2009

John Ortved's The Simpsons: An Unauthorized, Uncensored History

Under The Radar
By now The Simpsons is among the most predictable institutions in America. Not in the sense that the show is boring or unsurprising—though many will argue that it is—but predictable in that, after two decades, it's still on the air every with new episodes Sunday night at eight o'clock. Like baseball or The Ramones, The Simpsons has come to be synonymous with America.

That wasn't always the case, obviously, and when the series began it's success was anything but assured. That hectic period is at the heart of The Simpsons: An Unauthorized, Uncensored History, a 300-plus page oral history that began two years ago as a Vanity Fair piece. Drawing from extensive interviews with cast members, current and former writers (including Conan O'Brien, Wallace Wolodarsky, George Meyer, and others) and loveable Aussie billionaire Rupert Murdoch, the book was also done without the participation of principals such as Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon, forcing Ortved to rely on outside sources (primarily quotes from print and broadcast interviews) and the word of the dozens of others interviewed for the project.

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