Secrets of The Simpsons - The Daily Beast
So a reporter for Vanity Fair sets out to write an oral history of The Simpsons, but gets stonewalled completely by the studio and the producers for asking a question about a producer who was exiled over a decade ago. This forces the reporter to investigate and dig into the dirt and he comes out with a book that is way more scathing than it would have been if the studio had given even token interviews.
It turns out Matt Groening was not considered a great asset by many in The Simpsons writers room; he was not a sitcom writer and didn’t really didn’t know how to tell those kinds of stories, and Sam Simon let him know it. Once while discussing a script where Marge finally lets her hair down, Matt really wanted to reveal that underneath her beehive, Marge had Rabbit ears—Sam, of course, said no. One witness to the early days was particularly annoyed that Groening took so much credit for the show's success, when "the fat fuck just sat up in his office all day, figuring out ways to make more money [with merchandising]" while Sam Simon and the writers churned out brilliant script after brilliant script.
As original Simpsons writer (and the head writer of Frasier), Jay Kogen put it, “I keep reading books about Star Trek where [creator] Gene Roddenberry was not the guy who was necessarily at the head of it, or the stuff about The Godfather, where it’s Coppola and it’s a bunch of other people. It turns out that what they say about TV and movies being a collaborative effort is really true. It’s a large collaboration. But those are hard stories to tell for the press. They like to make stars out of people, so they pick one guy and say, ‘This guy’s the guy who did it.’ And that’s a pretty good story.”
And that was the story James L. Brooks and Fox wanted to stick with. Fox tried to get me to write a different story, “How about,” one flack told me, “you do a history of how The Simpsons Movie came to be,” adding that this was something they could get on board with (Entertainment Weekly did this exact story when the movie premiered—with quotes from Brooks, Groening, and the cast—you can fall asleep to it here). I declined this very generous offer and continued to work on the story, resulting in some hilarious calls from Fox publicity, with them informing me “There is no Simpsons story in Vanity Fair. We said ‘no’!”