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‘Simpsons’ writer Mike Reiss to visit UAlbany

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“D’oh” not miss this opportunity to hear “The Simpsons” writer Mike Reiss speak at UAlbany!

Reiss, the longest-serving writer and producer of “The Simpsons,” the longest running primetime series in TV history, will be a guest speaker at the NYS Writers Institute event at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at Page Hall on the downtown campus.

    Reiss will discuss his new book, Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for the Simpsons, an inside look at the show and the creative process.  Fans will learn where Springfield, U.S.A. is located; how events like the election of Donald Trump was predicted; what Reiss and the creators of the show feel about “Family Guy;” and why the characters are yellow.

The book also features interviews with fellow writers, as well as animators, actors and celebrity guests.  Entertainment Weekly described Springfield Confidential as a “funny and factoid-filled glimpse behind the curtain — or, brown couch — of the beloved sitcom…a surprising view of Springfield you’ve never heard before.” 

    “I invited Mike Reiss because I love ‘The Simpsons,’” said Mark Koplik, Assistant Director at the New York State Writers Institute. “I’ve been watching it since the 1980s and my children are watching it three decades later.”

    At the Friday Feb. 8 event, Koplik will interview Reiss and also take questions from the audience.    

“The fact that ‘The Simpsons’ continues to be relevant and funny to multiple generations makes it a creative project of enormous significance,” said Koplik.

    Throughout the show’s history, “The Simpsons” have parodied many TV shows, movies, politics, current events, celebrities, musicians, and bands. Guests who have been Simpson-ized include three of four Beatles, as well as a wide array of celebrities including: Stephen Hawking, Lady Gaga, Alec Baldwin, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Meryl Streep, Weird Al Yankovic, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

    “I love the way that [“The Simpsons”] pokes fun at family dynamics, pop culture and current events,” said Koplik. “I discovered Mike’s book at Book Expo in NYC in June 2018,” said Koplik.  “The book emphasizes creativity and team-based collaboration. I believe that all UAlbany students can benefit from a conversation about those subjects.”

“The Simpsons” also included a famous reference to the Writer’s Institute founder, William Kennedy, when Moe the Bartender makes a comment about Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Ironweed.

    Reiss began working on the longest running animated show in 1989, starting with the first episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.”  The episode’s title is a play on words of the famous Nat King Cole Christmas song, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).”  

    As a writer for “The Simpsons,” Reiss produced 560 episodes, according to IMDB. Also, he produced for shows like “The Critic,” which is about a New York City movie critic voiced by Jon Lovitz; “The PJ’s,” a stop-motion animated sitcom featuring the voice talent of Eddie Murphy; and “Queer Duck,” which is about a duck who is homosexual.  Aside from animated shows targeted towards adults and teenagers, he produced the Christmas special, “How Murray Saved Christmas.” The Christmas special was based on the book written by Reiss about a diner owner who takes the role of Santa after he gets injured working on toys in his workshop.

    “Mike loves speaking to student audiences and readily agreed to come to Albany,” said Koplik.

    This will surely be a “can’t miss” event!

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