March 31, 2006

Fans get taste of “The Simpsons” movie

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - To learn some long-awaited news
about "The Simpsons," television's most popular cartoon family,
fans had to go to the movies on Friday.

Film studio 20th Century Fox released a 25-second
promotional trailer at showings of its new computer-animated
movie "Ice Age: The Meltdown" to announce the first big-screen
version of "The Simpsons" would be coming to theaters on July
27, 2007.

The trailer begins with a giant superhero-sized letter "S"
while an announcer declares, "Leaping his way onto the silver
screen ... the greatest hero in American history!"

The scene cuts to Homer Simpson sitting on his couch in his
underwear, saying, "I forgot what I was supposed to say."

Now in its 17th season, "The Simpsons" is the
longest-running U.S. comedy series in prime time.

Beginning as a string of cartoon shorts on "The Tracey
Ullman Show" in 1987, "The Simpsons" made their debut as a
half-hour series on the then-fledgling Fox network in December

At the outset, the series centered on the antics of the
wisecracking, underachieving 10-year-old Bart Simpson, a
spiky-haired misfit who darts around town on his skateboard and
drives his fourth-grade teacher nuts.

But as the show evolved, the focus shifted to Bart's
bone-headed father, Homer, who works at a nuclear power plant
and punctuates his frequent mistakes with the anguished,
half-syllable utterance "D'Oh!"

Rounding out the Simpsons brood are beehive-haired mother
Marge, the sensible, good-natured anchor of the family, and
Bart's two sisters -- pacifier-sucking baby Maggie, a silent
observer of all, and second-grade prodigy Lisa, a baritone
saxophone virtuoso and intellectual of the family.

Behind them is a huge cast of regulars who populate the
fictional town of Springfield -- extended family members,
neighbors, teachers, classmates, Homer's co-workers, his pals
at Moe's Tavern, Apu the Kwik-E-Mart clerk, police chief Wiggum
and even the Comic Book Guy.

The series averages 9.6 million viewers a week on Sunday
nights, down from its peak ratings several years ago, but
remains a critical favorite and worldwide pop culture
phenomenon seen in dozens of countries.

It also is a cash cow for 20th Century Fox TV for the
handsome revenues it generates in syndication.