BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. – We all know that one guy (or gal) who has an uncanny (occasionally annoying) knack for recalling lines from just about every episode of “The Simpsons” – of which there are currently 552 and counting.
That person is about to be replaced by a tricked-out, multi-platform “Simpsons World” library available this fall from FXX that will allow TV subscribers to have access to every episode of the show since its 1989 debut, searchable and clippable by scene and subject, on any device.
Expect your social network feeds to soon be filled with lines from “The Simpsons” as users try to impress their friends with apropos dialogue once uttered by Bart, Homer, Sideshow Bob, Mr. Burns, Marge’s sisters, Apu, Maggie, Ralph – you name it. No stone in Springfield appears to have been left unturned. No more will you search YouTube hoping for fuzzily replicated clips of, say, the show’s “Planet of the Apes” musical. (“I hate every ape I see / From chimpan-A to chimpan-Zee …”)
Hard-to-impress reporters at the Television Critics Association’s annual summer press tour were slowly roused from their indifference (yawn – another on-demand viewing app?) during a demo Monday morning of “Simpsons World.” For a moment, it felt a little bit like a scene out of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” where every new product is touted for its ability to make the world a better place. (For better or worse, this will make the world a place inhabited by people who started playing around with “Simpsons World” and never looked up from their iPads again.)
“Simpsons World” will be accessible to users who get FXX through their cable or satellite providers. The network told reporters it estimates that about 60 percent of TV subscribers will be able to get it, with more expected. (A deal has yet to be reached with Verizon Fios, for example.) If you post a “Simpsons” clip on your social network accounts, all your friends and followers will be able to see it, whether or not they get FXX.
For people who want to indulge in “The Simpsons” the old-fashioned way, FXX (which won exclusive cable and on-demand rights to “Simpsons” reruns in a 2013 bidding war) will air every episode in order, continuously, for 12 days beginning Aug. 21 at 10 a.m.
Other notes from the TV press tour …
Kids today: Of the big four broadcast networks, Fox is the one that most needs a hit this season. Ratings are down; longtime entertainment chief Kevin Reilly was shown the door earlier this summer and replaced by the two executives (Gary Newman and Dana Walden) who run 20th Century Fox Television, a studio that has ably supplied hits to other networks and now might more easily supply the network with a hit or two. (Yes, it’s hard to keep straight on the executive-level architecture of the various fiefdoms within the Fox empire.)
During a Q&A Sunday on the press tour, Fox Networks Group CEO Peter Rice was asked about the decision to shave another 13 hours off the beleaguered “American Idol” when it returns next spring.
“I think it is aging gracefully,” Rice said of the show. The judge-lineup issues seem to have worked out (with Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban) to the mutual satisfaction of producers and fans. But “Idol” has lost some of its gleam. Why?
“If I have a criticism of the show for us last year, it is that we haven’t found, in the last two years, a group of kids who have captured the imagination of the public. They’ve been really talented kids, but for whatever reason, there hasn’t been that catalyst behind the show.” With all the singing and talent shows, maybe America’s children are losing the taste for fame? Maybe they’re just not as good? Maybe they’re not there at all?
“Do you ever think there might not be any kids left?” one reporter asked.
Not missing a beat, Rice replied: “We’re always making more.”
‘Gracepoint’ déjà vu: When Fox announced last summer that it was going to remake the British hit miniseries “Broadchurch” (retitled as “Gracepoint,” premiering on Fox on Thursday, Oct. 2) everyone wondered if that was such a smart idea. The original, which aired on BBC America, was pretty perfect that way it was. But Fox said the American version would be different enough to lure viewers who would be judging it against the British version.
Well, TV critics have now seen the first two episodes, and they’re remarkably similar to the original – sometimes down to the pauses. David Tennant, who starred in the British “Broadchurch,” also plays the same role (with an American accent) in “Gracepoint,” a murder mystery set in Northern California.
After a number of questions about the similarities (and whether or not the ending will be a surprise), executive producer Carolyn Bernstein finally was compelled to point out the hard truth: BBC America’s viewing audience for “Broadchurch,” Bernstein said, “Represents, really, truly less than 1 percent of the American television viewing population. We’re not particularly worried about the overlap.”
The show’s other executive producer, Dan Futterman, added: “My mom is right down the alley of the BBC America audience, and she started watching [‘Broachurch’] and she’s like, ‘I can’t understand a word they’re saying.’”
“How rude!” Tennant said.
New ‘Fargo’ details: A second season of the highly praised miniseries “Fargo” will premiere in late 2015 at the earliest, FX’s CEO John Landgraf told reporters during the network’s presentations on Monday. It will have a different cast and the story will be set in 1979 in Sioux Falls, S.D., Fargo, N.D., and Luverne, Minn. (Filming will again take place in Canada.) Executive producer Noah Hawley said one of the characters will be a younger version of Lou Solverson, the retired cop played by Keith Carradine in the first season.
More ‘Louie’ too: The increasingly experimental FX comedy from Louis C.K. has been renewed for a fifth season. Expect seven or eight new episodes next spring.
Too violent? Too bad!: Unless people start throwing down at PBS’s dinner party and panel discussion with “Downton Abbey” cast members at the press tour on Tuesday night (which is highly unlikely), the testiest moment at this year’s press tour came during the presentation last Thursday of Kevin Williamson’s new CBS crime series “Stalker,” which stars Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott and premieres Wednesday, Oct. 1.
It’s about a special unit that investigates and apprehends stalkers. Williamson (who made “Dawson’s Creek” and the “Scream” movies in the 1990s and, more recently, the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” and Fox’s cult-of-killers series “The Following”) has said he hopes the show would raise awareness of stalking as well as entertain viewers.
The pilot opens quite violently – needlessly so for some critics with grisly-crime fatigue.
During the panel, Williamson batted aside journalists — including The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg, who writes an online column on popular culture for the opinion section – who asked him why people want to watch another show in this genre. Where is the balance between honest depiction of crime and entertainment? In the context of real-life shooting rampages involving, for just one recent example, a young man obsessed with how women supposedly ignored him, “Why is this interesting?” Rosenberg asked. “Why is this fun or entertaining?”
“Turn the channel,” Williamson replied. (Can do!)