Monday, November 4, 2013

‘Simpsons’ Executive Producer On the Show’s KISS ‘Tribute’ | Photo: Alejandro Pagni/Getty Images

Last night’s (November 3) episode of The Simpsons was one for the ages. Titled “Four Regrettings And A Funeral,” it featured one of the show’s most epic “couch gags” ever, an understated and sweet goodbye to longtime character Mrs. Krabappel, and a pretty hilarious reference to “The Hottest Band In The World.”

“Four Regrettings” saw four characters — Homer and Marge Simpson, Mr. Burns and news anchor Kent Brockman — look back on their lives and consider the questionable choices they’ve made. Mr. Burns let the love of his life slip away because he couldn’t take her advice to think about others for five minutes a day. Homer sold all of his Apple stock to buy a bowling ball. Kent Brockman didn’t follow his former co-anchor Rachel Maddow (appearing as herself) in trading local news for the big time. And Marge Simpson wonders if perhaps she is responsible for son Bart’s rebellious streak, due to — of all things — an unexplained hankering for the music and imagery of KISS during her pregnancy.

This last one was such a bizarre twist, that reached out to Simpsons Executive Producer Al Jean to ask about its origins. While Jean didn’t come up with the idea, he felt compelled to go along with it: “As a corporal in the KISS Army, I could only obey.”

“[Director] Jim Brooks suggested that Marge was hooked on KISS music when she was pregnant, and that she worried it had made Bart what he was,” Jean said.

Two songs from the KISS catalog made the episode, both of which had significance to Jean: “We used ‘Detroit Rock City’ and ‘Christine Sixteen,’ two songs that have special meaning for me (I am from Detroit, and left there for college at 16). As Marge said, ‘Anything from Love Gun’ would be great.”

While KISS has very liberally licensed their image to cartoons before — they currently have partnerships with Hello Kitty and Family Guy — the band’s representatives still needed to approve of the script before granting the rights to use their music. “Their [music] publisher was sent all the script pages referring to the music when we cleared it,” Jean said. “Sometimes people raise issues with content, but KISS were great sports.”

And they had to be great sports. Marge and Homer dress up like Gene, for crying outloud! As Homer wags his tongue Simmons-style, Marge asks him to “do that thing Gene Simmons does.” Homer’s immortal response: “What, overstay my welcome for 40 years?”

“As a show that’s been around for 25 years,” Jean says, “we have the utmost sympathy.”