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Old 03-09-2015, 03:56 PM   #1
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Unhappy "The Simpsons" Co-Creator Sam Simon 1955-2015

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Sam Simon, who was a creative force behind “The Simpsons” and who left the show after its fourth season in a lucrative arrangement that allowed him to spend much of the rest of his life giving his money away, died on Sunday. He was 59.

His death was announced by the Sam Simon Foundation, the organization through which he donated his money. It did not say where he died or specify the cause, although Mr. Simon learned a few years ago that he had colon cancer.

The cartoonist Matt Groening, recruited by the producer James L. Brooks, invented the Simpson family for a series of short animated segments first seen on “The Tracey Ullman Show” in 1987. Mr. Groening named some of the characters after members of his own family, including Homer and Marge, the parents.

But although Mr. Groening is the person most closely associated with “The Simpsons,” Mr. Simon — who had published cartoons while he was a student at Stanford, worked on the cartoon show “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” and been a writer and producer for the sitcoms “Cheers” and “Taxi” — played a crucial role as “The Simpsons” evolved into a half-hour series. It became the longest-running sitcom in television history.

Mr. Simon helped populate Springfield, the fictional town where the Simpsons live, with a range of characters. He insisted that the show be created using some conventional sitcom techniques like having writers work collectively. He had the voice actors read their parts as an ensemble, with the goal of giving the show more lifelike rhythm and timing. And he hired many of the show’s first writers, a number of whom gave him credit for informing its multilayered sensibility, one that skewers pieties with anarchic humor and sometimes vulgarity while celebrating family and community.

“’If you leave out Sam Simon, you’re telling the managed version,” Jon Vitti, one of the show’s first writers, told The New York Times in 2001. “He was the guy we wrote for.”

Jay Kogen, a former producer of “The Simpsons,” told The Times that Mr. Simon “knew the freedom that animation provides and utilized it to the full extent.”



Mr. Groening, who was best known before “The Simpsons” for creating the syndicated comic strip “Life in Hell,” drew attention for his unusual career move into television animation. But Mr. Simon also had to change directions: He had to figure out how to make an unconventional product appeal to the mainstream audiences he had reached on “Taxi” and “Cheers.” He was surprised at how well it worked.

“There would be a few minutes where you’d have a parody of a Kubrick movie, and then you’d have Homer on the kitchen counter eating cake like a dog,” he told Stanford Magazine, a university publication, in 2009. “I thought some people would like some aspects of it, but I wasn’t sure how many would come along for the full ride. It turned out I was incredibly wrong. Homer is now the prototype for every male lead on a comedy show.”

Mr. Simon’s work on the show is also remembered for the way it ended. He and Mr. Groening clashed frequently — Mr. Groening was among several people, including Mr. Simon himself, who said that Mr. Simon could be difficult to work with — and Mr. Simon left in 1993, after four seasons.

It was not an amicable split, but it was extraordinarily profitable for Mr. Simon. He retained the title of executive producer and was given royalties from future home video sales. As “The Simpsons” moved into syndication and lucrative VHS and then DVD sales, it made Mr. Simon wealthy long after he had been directly involved in it. He said in interviews that it provided him with “tens of millions” of dollars each year.

Mr. Simon angered Mr. Groening early on by expressing skepticism about the show’s prospects, suggesting that it would last only one season. But he later emphasized how fortunate he had been to be part of it. Not that he caught every episode after he left.

“If I had to watch it to cash my checks,” he said, “I would.”

Mr. Simon put his money toward his passions. He started a foundation that trained dogs to help people who are disabled, including veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he gave generously to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, among other groups. PETA’s headquarters in Norfolk, Va., was renamed the Sam Simon Center in 2013.

“I’ve given most of it away,” Mr. Simon said in 2013 when asked about his wealth on the comedian Marc Maron’s podcast. “I won’t be rich again until we get our quarterly installment from ‘The Simpsons.’ ”

Mr. Simon was born on June 6, 1955, in the Los Angeles area. His father owned a company that made discount clothing, and Mr. Simon grew up comfortably in Beverly Hills, across the street from Groucho Marx and around the corner from Priscilla Presley.

He was recruited to play football at Stanford but quit after one day of practice. While he was a student there, he drew sports cartoons for The San Francisco Chronicle. He graduated in 1977.

Four years later, after he had worked as a storyboard artist and writer for Filmation Studios, he mailed an unsolicited script to the producers of “Taxi.” They accepted and produced his script, and by the following year, Mr. Simon had become one of the show’s main writers. He was soon writing and producing for several other shows, including “Cheers.”

After he left “The Simpsons,” Mr. Simon helped develop other series, including the short-lived “George Carlin Show” and the long-running “Drew Carey Show.” He also became a competitive poker player and hosted a program on Playboy TV featuring celebrities playing Texas hold ’em. He was a frequent guest on Howard Stern’s radio show.

In 1997, he entered a different arena entirely when he began managing the boxer Lamon Brewster. In 2004, Mr. Brewster won the World Boxing Organization heavyweight championship.

Mr. Simon’s marriage to the actress and competitive poker player Jennifer Tilly ended in divorce, but the two remained close. A brief marriage to Jami Ferrell, a Playboy model, also ended in divorce. Information about survivors was not immediately available.

One beneficiary of his philanthropy, The Sea Shepherd Society, which opposes whale hunting, named one of its boats for Mr. Simon. (Others are also named for celebrity supporters.) In 2011, the Simon foundation started a program that provides low-income families with free vegan meals. After Mr. Simon received his cancer diagnosis, he announced his intention to give nearly all of his “Simpsons” royalties to charity.

Asked whether he was imposing his own vegan diet on those his charity served, Mr. Simon said: “They can eat all the meat they want. I’m just not going to pay for it.”
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Old 03-10-2015, 11:44 AM   #2
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Prayers for his family...
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Old 03-10-2015, 01:05 PM   #3
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Did you know that he was once a contestant on The NEW Tic Tac Dough w/Wink Martindale?

He appeared in the 2nd season on syndication

God Bless You Mr. Simon, May You R.I.P.
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Old 03-10-2015, 01:12 PM   #4
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Unhappy

Sam Simon
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Old 03-10-2015, 02:55 PM   #5
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Default Sam Simon created the three-dimensional world of The Simpsons

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/...sam_simon.html

Matt Groening created "the template for the show," says The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History author Wallace Wolodarsky of the late Simpsons co-creator. Simon, he adds, "was able to take that template and make it into an even bigger world and really fleshed it out with characters. He brought a broader perspective to it. He made it bigger than just the family. What's such an important part of The Simpsons is the world it exists in."
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Old 03-10-2015, 04:17 PM   #6
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RIP and thank you for The Simpsons.
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Old 03-11-2015, 12:03 AM   #7
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Default How Sam Simon infuriated the nuclear power industry with his Simpsons storylines

http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...eyed-fish.html

The Simpsons co-creator, who died Sunday, helped shaped America's perception of nuclear energy with the many shots at took at nuclear power in the show's early years. Things got so tense between the show and the nuclear power industry that Simon at one point said "I am sorry that the Simpsons have offended a lot of people in the energy industry," and agreed to take his writers on a tour of a real nuclear energy plant. That resulted in The Simpsons agreeing to tone down the ribbing starting with Season 3. PLUS:
Explaining the Matt Groening vs. Sam Simon conflict, here are all the Simon-created characters, Groening was God while Simon was Jebediah Springfield of The Simpsons universe, The Simpsons wouldn't be The Simpsons without Simon, and a very angry Sam Simon is what made The Simpsons so resonant and popular in its early years.
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