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Simpsons Scribe Matt Selman Shares His Mad Men Inspiration

Simpsons Scribe Matt Selman Shares His Mad Men Inspiration” width=”560″/>

The Simpsons writer Matt Selman gives the inside scoop on the Mad Men Halloween sketch and talks about fulfilling his dream of having Alan Moore guest star on the show.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of doing a Mad Men sketch during this year’s Halloween special?

A: It was the brainchild of our executive producer Al Jean. We write these a year in advance, so the story existed before Mad Men had ever aired. But then once it aired, we said let’s make these executives that go to Homer like ’60s-style ad guys a la Mad Men. And then, meanwhile in the course of our production Mad Men became this big phenomenon, so we decided to do The Simpsons version of their classic super-stylized opening credits.

Q: Did you reach out to the cast?

A: No, because the whole thing was last minute. It wasn’t originally conceived as a Mad Men thing, we just kept adding more Mad Men elements as the process went on and it was too late to get the voices. Plus, those actors are so good we’d rather write a new character for them. If you have a great actor like Jon Hamm, he could play a whole character in a regular episode instead of just ripping off himself. Whereas if you have John Glenn, you have him play John Glenn.

Q: What was the idea behind the episode’s Transformers sketch?

A: I wouldn’t say there was a huge conceptual idea behind it other than, “Transformers are silly.” So there’s just lots of goofy transforming, but I guess I wish it were more critical of the movie. It’s not. But it does make fun of the idea of ancient races of robots warring against each other for no reason — it takes a stand against that.

Q: If you write these a year in advance, can you give us a sneak peek at next year’s “Treehouse of Horror”?

A: Sure. One of the skits is sort of a riff on Children of Men-slash-28 Weeks Later-slash-crappy future world dystopia with savior. Slash-The Road I guess. That’s all I’ll say.

Q: You wrote last season’s episode, “That 90’s Show,” which depicted Marge in college in the ’90s.

A: I’m really proud of that episode. It took advantage of the fact that The Simpsons is the only 20-year-old television show where the characters haven’t aged at all. If you have a show that’s on for two decades and the characters don’t age, that show is going to require what I would call a “flexible continuity.” So if this episode is going to air in 2008 and Bart is 10, then he was born in 1998. The continuity makes zero sense, of course. It actually irritated some of our more hardcore fans because they felt we were deliberately ret-conning the classic flashbacks of how Homer and Marge met and how the kids were born.

Q: You also wrote a flash-forward episode, “Future-Drama.”

A: I guess I do a lot of conceptual time-traveling episodes. Matt Groening would always say, “The great thing about The Simpsons is we’ll never have to see the actors grow up and be ugly teenagers.” So I was like, “What if we saw them grow up to be ugly teenagers?” We’re actually almost up to the time when that episode would have taken place, and the technology was surprisingly advanced. I believe there was an election in which they were considering giving the apes the right to vote.

Q: Who would you most want to guest star on The Simpsons?

A: Well, I already got Alan Moore, and that was pretty awesome. It is becoming increasingly evident that he was one of the most important writers for a generation of people who control art and media. I respect his disavowal of all the adaptations. His passion for the purity of writing and comic books is so pure that it’s completely within his right to disavow the inevitable commercialization that comes with having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to turn those things into a reality. Now Warner Bros. has animated the old Watchmen comics with no mention of his name at all. And it’s weird because I don’t think there are any edits in them. It’s every line of dialogue and every image, and the animation kinda looks cool… but I feel like if Alan doesn’t like it, then I can’t like it.

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