More Details On A Simpsons Movie

The SimpsonsA year or so ago, I posted an article containing rumors of a movie based on The Simpsons. A recent interview with producer Mike Reiss fleshes out those rumors slightly, alluding to a possible movie release around Christmas 2006. Fox Studios is in support of the movie, although that’s not surprising, as they’ve obviously been trying to get a Simpsons movie into the theaters for over ten years now. As much as it would be cool to see a really great Simpsons movie, I feel it’s more likely that it would be a swan song, the final straw that really causes the show to Jump the Shark (and not like Homer did in the Episode “Gump Roast”)…

The Simpsons and Oregon

The points out some interesting links between The Simpsons and the state of Oregon:

It’s a well-known fact that The Simpsons has a lot of ties to Oregon, starting with its fictional setting, Springfield. Creator Matt Groening, who grew up in Portland, has sprinkled references to his homeland throughout the show. But where’s the love for Eugene, the quintessential Oregon town that (as far as The Simpsons is concerned) has languished in Springfield’s shadow? Well, it finally made the show, with a rain joke, no less, in Sunday’s episode.

Here’s the set-up: Carl and Lenny are acting the parts of Lewis and Clark, and as soon as they hit Oregon, it starts to rain.

“I say we give this lovely land a name,” says Lenny. “How about: Eugene, Oregon?”

The show concludes with Homer watching Animal House, which was filmed in Eugene in 1978.

Which Oregon town will The Simpsons immortalize next? My personal favorite is Drain, with Boring, Riddle, Paisley and Dufur close behind.

Pretty interesting, but it still doesn’t solve the mystery of where Springfield is really located

Original Star Wars Trilogy Coming To DVD

Star WarsLucasfilm has officially announced that the original Star Wars Trilogy will be released on DVD on September 21st. The initial news, immediately reported by Digital Bits, one of my favorite sources for DVD news, had “no official word on which version of the films will be released on the discs – the original theatrical versions, the 90s special editions or the ultimate ‘archive’ editions,” but a later post on that site confirms that the 4-DVD boxed set will be the 1997 Special Edition versions.

<!– Han shot first –>Last March I signed the petition urging George Lucas to release the original theatrical versions on DVD, or at least include them in the DVD release, but he has obviously decided to ignore thousands of fans and release the “enhanced” Special Edition versions. The Slashdot thread is full of predictably irate comments, many praising Peter Jackson’s approach to releasing The Lord Of The Rings movies on DVD (informing fans ahead of time that theatrical versions will be released on DVD first and then extended versions will follow several months later) and lamenting that George Lucas is too stubborn to compromise in a similar fashion. Several posters commented that perhaps at some point another, “classic” set with the original theatrical versions would be released to milk clamoring fans for more money, and I definitely wouldn’t put it past Lucas and company based on their past history with VHS releases.

For anyone who doesn’t understand the big outcry over the Special Edition releases, several synopses of changed scenes and effects are described in the thread, or you can see a complete list here. Although I don’t like eye candy for its own sake, I must admit that some of the improved special effects are pretty nice. However, I do object to retroactively changing characters and plot points. One of the most egregious changes for most fans is the Mos Eisley cantina scene where Lucas totally changes Han Solo’s character in his Special Edition release. In the original, theatrical version, Han Solo fires on bounty hunter Greedo first, but in the Special Edition Greedo is the instigator. Some may say that this is no big deal, but I disagree. In a similar vein, Steven Spielberg made alterations and enhancements for the E.T. DVD release, in which federal agents sport walkie-talkies instead of guns near the end of the movie. In response to that, as well as the Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark Special Editions, South Park devoted the hilarious episode “Free Hat” to this alarming trend. If artists really want to retroactively change their “vision” of a movie, then I guess that’s their prerogative. However, I strongly feel that they should make the original cuts available so that people can still have the choice of experiencing films as they originally saw them. The large-capacity DVD format is ideally suited to accommodate extra content and different cuts, and it really bothers me when directors or studios refuse to fully make use of it.

I’ll grudgingly buy the DVD boxed set when it comes out, because if nothing else it will definitely be the best quality version available. I’m sure the experience of seeing the films in pristine digital surround sound and video will be simply awesome. Still, I’ll know the difference between what I’m seeing and what I saw 17 years ago. Man, I can’t believe it’s been so long…

Update: First of all, I forgot to point out that although Steven Spielberg made several dubious changes in the DVD release of E.T., he did at least include the original theatrical version as part of the two-disc set. This is the approach that I (and most fans, I imagine) would like George Lucas to take, but for now at least, he is unwilling to do so, preferring his new “vision” to supplant our theatrical experiences. I came upon an excellent editorial on the upcoming Star Wars DVD release at Digital Bits. I think I’m pretty much in agreement with everything written in the article…