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'Simpsons' exec producer Al Jean: 'I completely understand' if reruns with nuclear jokes are pulled

FOX Dan Snierson March 27, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT

The Simpsons

type
TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date
12/17/89
performer
Hank Azaria, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith
guest performer
Pierce Brosnan, Richard Gere, Stephen Jay Gould, Lisa Kudrow, Edward Norton, R.E.M., Ben Stiller, Reese Witherspoon
broadcaster
Fox
genre
Cartoons/Animation, Comedy

Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis is no laughing matter in Springfield: Networks in several European countries are reportedly reviewing episodes of The Simpsons for any “unsuitable” references to nuclear disaster. An Austrian network has apparently pulled two eps, 1992’s “Marge Gets a Job” and 2005’s “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister,” which include jokes about radiation poisoning and nuclear meltdowns, respectively. Al Jean — exec producer of the animated Fox comedy featuring inept family man/nuclear power plant worker Homer Simpson — tells EW that he can appreciate the concern. “We have 480 episodes, and if there are a few that they don’t want to air for awhile in light of the terrible thing going on, I completely understand that,” says Jean, citing the previous example of the 1997 episode “Homer Versus the City of New York” that was pulled after 9/11 because it included key scenes at the World Trade Center. “We would never make light of what’s happening in Japan.”

Twentieth Television, the syndication division of Fox Television, has provided U.S. stations that air The Simpsons in syndication with a list of episodes that contain potentially sensitive material given the unfolding disaster in Japan, so those stations can decide whether or not to pull them. (This isn’t an uncommon practice in such situations.) Jean assures that no upcoming Simpsons episodes “even approach” the subject. “Some of them are workplace shows, but they are just about Homer being at work,” he says. “They’re not about nuclear power.” And in case you were wondering, there are no plans to have Homer leave his job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. “He’s still going to work there,” says Jean. “We have a rich universe in which we can do a million things and not touch on that.”

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