D'oh! Discussing All Things Springfield With 'Simpsons' Writer Mike Reiss

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Mike Reiss, 'Simpsonized' by Matt Groening. (Courtesy William Morrow & Dey Street Books, HarperCollins Publishers)

This program originally broadcast June 14, 2018, with David Folkenflik. 

Three decades of "The Simpsons." We turn our eye on Springfield with a top writer who has been in the mix since day one.


Mike Reiss, producer and writer for "The Simpsons" since its first episode in 1989. Four-time Emmy award winner. His new book is "Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons." (@MikeReissWriter)

Yeardley Smith, voice of Lisa on "The Simpsons." (@YeardleySmith)

From The Reading List:

Excerpt from "Springfield Confidential":

Slate: "The New Book About The Simpsons Is Hilarious, Joke-a-Minute, and Overstays Its Welcome" — "Mike Reiss is one of the very few people who has worked continuously on The Simpsons since its first episode. Along with his longtime writing partner Al Jean, he was the showrunner on The Simpsons’ third and fourth seasons, which are widely regarded as the beginning of the show’s ridiculously long apex. Reiss, along with co-author Mathew Klickstein, has now written a memoir titled Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies From a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons. It’s the first book of its kind by a true Simpsons lifer and offers an informative, frequently hilarious, and occasionally frustrating glimpse into the long career of the world’s most famous four-fingered family.

Reiss announces at the onset that Springfield Confidential will be structured like a Simpsons episode, partitioned into four 'acts': setup, complication, resolution, and coda. The book opens with the story of Reiss getting the job, fresh off a stint writing for It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. Reiss recalls that no one on the writing staff thought that the show would last more than six weeks, which doesn’t seem like retrospective false modesty. When The Simpsons premiered, it was the first animated prime-time show in a generation, the brainchild of an underground cartoonist airing on a network that was still an afterthought. 'After eight years writing for films, sitcoms, and even Johnny Carson, I was now working on a cartoon,' recalls Reiss. 'I was twenty-eight years old and I thought I’d hit rock bottom.'"

You know those voices, unless of course you have been on Mars for the past three decades, in a cave, with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears. Those utterances belong of course to the Simpsons and their cohorts on the hit Fox show of the same name. We’ll talk to one of the show’s top writers since the start, and to the actor who plays Lisa Simpson.

This hour, On Point: The Simpsons.

- David Folkenflik

This program aired on August 17, 2018.


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