Fox has just ordered up two more seasons of that Emmy-winning animated series, guaranteeing that Homer, Bart and the rest of the Springfield gang will keep going through a 19th season in 2008. The 'toon will also mark its 400th episode in May 2007.
Not since CBS' Gunsmoke ruled the airwaves has a TV program so successfully etched itself into the pop culture landscape for so long.
With Monday's announcement, The Simpsons is getting closer to tying the western's record 20-year run.
The Simpsons, created by cartoonist Matt Groening, holds Guinness World Record titles for longest running 'toon in TV history, longest running comedy on the tube (having surpassed The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which lasted for 15 seasons from 1952 to 1966), and having the most guest stars in a TV series.
To put it in perspective, a 10-year-old who tunes into a Simpsons episode today was in diapers when season six wrapped up with the classic "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" cliffhanger. Those born in 1987, when sketchy, prototype Simpsons first appeared as brief segments in between the sketches on Fox's The
Tracey Ullman Show, are now ready to collect high school diplomas (that is, if they adhered to Lisa's, not Bart's, study habits).
The Simpsons voice cast-- Dan Castellaneta (Homer, Krusty, Grandpa Simpson, Mayor Quimby), Julie Kavner (Marge, Selma, Patty), Nancy Cartwright (Bart, Nelson, Ralph Wiggum), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum) and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner)--are reportedly signed up for the additional seasons.
As Monty Burns would say, that's excellent news considering the group's periodic strike threats to get higher paydays as the show's evolved into a $1 billion juggernaut for Fox and its parent, News Corp. Apparently rumors of The Simpsons demise over the years, including even comments to that effect from Groening himself, have been greatly exaggerated.
Meanwhile, a big-screen Simpsons is definitely in the works and will likely debut at the end of the series' run...whenever that happens to be.
The good news on Monday wasn't limited to The Simpsons camp. Fox also annouced it's firing up the barbecue for an additional season of King of the Kill.
Hatched by Beavis and Butt-head mastemind
Mike Judge, the latter 'toon debuted in 1997 and has become the second-longest running comedy on television. Hill, which won an Emmy in 1999 for Best Animated Series, is now back on the air after being preempted by Fox's coverage of the NFL playoffs. Its 11th season is slated to kick off in January 2007.
By Josh Grossberg