LOS ANGELES--It was 'toon titans day yesterday at TCA, with the creators and showrunners for Fox's Sunday night animated comedies--The Simpsons, Family Guy, King of the Hill, American Dad and newcomer The Cleveland Show--all seated together on the panel.
The event became something of a Simpsons love-in, with Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane leading the charge.
"When Simpsons and King of the Hill came on the air, they all had this very underground look, they didn't look very slick," said MacFarlane. "It told you, this isn't a kid show. I took a cue from that; that's a look no one's seen before. You learn from people who do it first."
Simpsons' creator Matt Groening made a joking reference to his show's voice cast members recent salary heist; the five principal voice members now haul down a reported half million per episode. At 20 episodes, that's a cool $10 mil per season. As Bart used to say, "Ay carumba!"
Groening recycled his old joke that he hopes the cast can be as rich and unhappy as anyone else in Hollywood. When someone asked if the show's writers shouldn't get the same crazy money, Groening said he is continuously knocked out by his cast and said they got the money they deserve. "I want everybody -- in this room! -- to get rich off The Simpsons. Everyone works really hard and yes, people need to be compensated."
McFarlane at one point referenced The Flintstones as the animated comedy that started it all. I thought it was a telling remark. The Flintstones, like Family Guy, was a ridiculously derivative show, stealing gags, characters and sometimes entire concepts from TV comedies such as The Honeymooners. More appropriate to trace the bloodlines of The Simpsons back to Rocky & Bullwinkle, Jay Ward's simple but outrageously original and brazenly adult-oriented animated comedy which pre-dates The Flintstones by a year or two.
Someone asked Groening and Simpsons showrunner Al Jean if they had anything to say to MacFarlane for ripping them off all the time. (They sometimes goof on this one their show, like the time Homer fell into a photocopier and one of the copies was Family Guy dad Peter Griffin.) "We love Seth!" said Groening. "If we weren't so rich, we'd be very depressed."
Jean also revealed that this year's upcoming Treehouse of Horror Halloween episode (Nov. 2) will feature a goof on Charlie Brown and the "Grand," not "Great," pumpkin.