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Matt Selman: ‘The Simpsons’ Producer Talks 1-Hour Hip Hop Episode [EUR Exclusive]

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The Great Phatsby,

*In the one-hour “Simpsons” episode titled “The Great Phatsby,” Emmy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson, comedian Keegan-Michael Key and rapper Snoop Dogg lend their voices to characters who help Mr. Burns (Harry Shearer) relive his glory days.

Burns crosses paths with a mysterious music mogul, and after being conned by him and reduced to bankruptcy, he seeks revenge on the music producer with the help of Homer, Bart, rapper Jazzy James (Keegan-Michael Key), the mogul’s ex-wife, Praline (Henson) as well as Snoop Dogg, Common and RZA playing themselves.

EUR/Electronic Urban Report chatted with Simpson’s Executive Producer Matt Selman, who has been on the series since 1996, about the inspiration behind the series, working with the guest stars, and his thoughts about the show predicting the presidential election of Donald Trump.

“We haven’t done a huge number of hip hop episodes so we really wanted to go all out with this one,” Matt said. “We have so many fans in the hip hop community and we went out to our three favorite guys and they all said yes. We couldn’t believe it. It’s like this Mount Rushmore of rap.”

He added, “We took three different rappers with three different styles and three different personalities in how they make their art. We couldn’t believe how much love there was out there. There’s a huge amount of love for The Simpsons in the world of hip hop, and obviously we have a lot of love for hip hop. We wanted to go bananas and we did.”

Check out the rest of our Q&A with Matt below:

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The Great Phatsby,

Mr. Burns merges with the world of rap. What an intriguing mash-up. 

Matt: There was a great epic friendship between Mr. Burns, an old-school evil billionaire, and a rap impresario in the mold of Jay Z or P. Diddy or Dr. Dre, or one of these modern rap billionaires, and they both kinda embrace that old-timey Rockefeller Hampton’s — certain glamor and style. That connects Mr. Burns to the modern rap image. There’s a line in the show: ‘Is not green a more powerful color than black or white? Burns sees a modern rap mogul and the style which he lives life and thinks, ‘This is what I used to have, and this is what I want.’

The world of rap and hip hop can be quite controversial. Would you say this episode pushes the envelope?

Matt: We don’t super push it. The Simpsons used to be an outrageous show that people thought was really envelope pushing, but the world has gotten more outrageous since then. We just want to tell stories that touch people, and are funny and silly. I don’t think we’re super outrageous. It’s a pretty clean-cut episode…a couple pot jokes. Like when Snoop is recording in his booth there’s a lot of mysterious smoke in the booth and Homer pops his head in and takes a deep sniff.

The episode features some amazing talent lending their voices. What would you call the key quality in finding the right voices for The Simpsons?

Matthew: We just wanted people who had huge, hilarious energy. Taraji P. Henson — so funny. She came in and she knew we’re obviously making fun of Cookie. We’re doing a wackier version of Cookie and she loved it. She was ad-libbing, tons of her jokes are in the script. Cookie is such this outrageous character and then she just turned it up another notch and become even more wild. She had so much fun with it. To watch her send up Cookie like that, it was one of my favorite experiences in the 1000 years I’ve worked on the show.

I’m amazed at how the show has still been able to produce original content for 20 years now. How do you keep it fresh? Are the writers constantly thinking a season or two ahead about ways to test the audience each new season?

Matthew: I wish we had that kind of energy. To do 22 a year… I feel like we’re just like, ‘What’s funny? Let’s do it!’ Whatever we think of… we’ve done so many things —to think of anything at all good we just do it right away and then a year later see how it all fits together. I wish there was a grand scheme. Instead, it’s just like we gotta keep going. We gotta keep the train running. This hip hop show — to do an hour long show is epic for us. We’ve never done that. We did ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns?’ like, 25 years ago, but that was a two-parter over a season finale cliffhanger. This is like a mini-movie.

Is producing an hour long show the biggest challenge you’ve had as a Simpsons producer?

Matthew: It was certainly a new challenge, and a new challenge is always exciting. It’s definitely more than twice the amount of work. People are used to a story being over in like 20 minutes with commercials. And now to keep their attention for an hour, with commercials — 45 minutes without, it’s hard — and yet, it’s a different dramatic situation. There is a B-story in the first half hour and a B-story in the second half hour, and there are little stories along the way that begin and end that you don’t have to follow for the whole hour. So hopefully that’ll keep people’s attention.

the simpsons

How much of the ‘The Simpson’ success do you attribute to the diversity the series tends to embrace?

Matthew: We just want this to be a show that everyone can watch with their family. I know we have a lot of fans in the African-American community and a lot of fans in the Latino community. I know there’s just something about the look of the show and the feel of it, and our take of the world, that I feel is really inclusive. We really try to make that happen. Obviously we take shots at everyone. We make fun of everybody (because) at the end of the day, everyone’s part of the same mess that is America. We’re all in this giant mess together.

Is it true that the show is going to end after season 30?

Matt: Nothing has been decided yet. I would say we’re pretty much locked up til the end of season 30. Those episodes would start airing maybe early 2019, I think. But after that anything can happen.

How would you like to see ‘The Simpsons’ end?

Matthew: It won’t be my choice what the last episode is going to be, but my personal choice is that it would just be a little small regular episode and not try to wrap anything up or change anything…or someone dies. The whole point of the show is every week beginning with this regular blue-collar family and they love each other but they’re troubled, and life isn’t so easy. You don’t always get along, then crazy stuff happens to them every week and then the next week it all kinda goes back to the beginning — like Groundhog Day. But I just wanna go out the way we started, with a small emotional story that touches you about a regular dysfunctional family like we all have. Obviously we’ll do some little jokes about it being the end. When it happens, I don’t wanna say ‘Grandpa died!,’ or the dog dies, or Homer gets a promotion or any of that. That’s just my personal opinion, but it might not be my call.

Lastly, “The Simpsons” predicted the outcome of the election 15 years ago. What do you make of that?

Matthew: It breaks my heart on one level. On another, makes me sad. Then on a third level, it’s very tragic. I don’t know… I can’t believe it! My brain is going to explode. We did a parody video of the Trump election when he first announced, and then people online took that and implied that we did that before cause we matched it exactly. But then lots of people, in this age of Internet confusion, now think that were literally stage-managed how he would arrive on the escalator, and that didn’t happen. We just imitated it and people go online and said it happened in the opposite order. All we did was make one little throw away joke about it. So that speaks to the bizarre post-truth era that we seem to be now living in. So I guess whatever is going to happen in the world, The Simpsons is along for the ride.

Obviously Trump’s narcissism and Twitter tantrums are going to provide you with a lot of hilarious Simpsons material.

Matthew: No, it’s all going to be super sad. If you can find laughter in absurd tragedy, yes — that will certainly be the case. But it’s impossible for me to see anything funny about the future. Other than from the most darkest sense of humanity — the darkest sense of humor, perhaps. It certainly won’t be boring. Fingers crossed, right? We gotta be good to each other.

Tune in to the “The Great Phatsby” episode this Sunday, January 15, on FOX.

Peep the behind-the-scenes clip with Keegan-Michael Key below:

 

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‘Origin of Everything’ on PBS Sparks Interest with Controversial & Everyday Topics (EUR Exclusive!)

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Origin of Everything

*“Origin of Everything,” available on PBS.org, has been exploring topics since 2017 that run the gamut. The show jumps into a variety of subjects by investigating daily life like the words we use, pop culture, and why we are hooked on technology.

The show does not shy away from controversial topics such as slavery, race and ethnicity, and mass incarceration of African Americans.

Danielle Bainbridge, Ph.D., the host and lead writer of “Origin of Everything,” told the EUR in a recent interview that the series is about making people think beyond the restrictive ways we have been taught to view history.

“It’s a show about our collective story and how we are envisioning history,” Dr. Bainbridge said. ”How do we think about history that includes all of us and just not the figures and facts that we were taught in school. So, it’s a show about under told and underrepresented history. We’re trying to make history feel very present to the people who watch it.”

She continued, “One of the reasons to watch it is if you’re curious about how did we get to our current moment? How do small things such as why do we eat popcorn at the movies or what is the origin of ethnicity and how do these things still impact the way we think about the world?”

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EUR PBS Danielle Bainbridge

Dr. Danielle Bainbridge, host of “Origin of Everything,” available on PBS.org. (Courtesy of PBS)

Deftly equipped to talk about controversial topics, Dr. Bainbridge holds a Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English & Theatre Arts. She is also a faculty member at Northwestern University in Theatre and African American Studies

In early 2017, when she was a graduate student, she was contacted by PBS about working on the show and thought it was a joke.

“When they first reached out to me, I thought it was a hoax,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I was thinking how would they even know who I am because I was a graduate student? But I think they found me through a since defunct janky website that I had set up. They reached out to me, I auditioned, did a screen test, and a writing sample and after that I was hired to help develop the show.”

Viewers are encouraged to be interactive with the series because it is digital. With instant commentary from the audience, the show knows immediately what viewers think, which for the most part is positive. However, when it delves into controversial subject matters things can get sticky.

“I would say overall people are pretty positive about the series because most of the folks who watch it are longtime watchers who tune in every week for episodes,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “The only exception is if we cover more sensitive topics like, race, gender, or sexuality we will get some pushback. I think that’s just the cost of doing business with open discourse.”

One of the most controversial shows was about the transatlantic slave trade.

“We did one episode on why Europeans enslaved Africans and that was probably our most viewed episode as well as our most critiqued one,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I think often times if you view yourself as pretty well versed in history from what you learn in school and then you learn something that goes in the opposite direction it can be jarring or for some people upsetting. We think of it as our value or service to our audience to present accurate history or history that doesn’t get told that often so that people can be informed with the whole picture.”

She added that she has an answer for those who point out that Africans sold slaves to Europeans.

“Slavery was not invented with West Africans and Europeans,” Dr. Bainbridge continued. “Some form of enslavement – whether through war, becoming a prisoner of war, or through different systems – goes back to ancient societies from around the world. So, it is not distinct to West Africa or Europe or any other region of the world.”

Dr. Bainbridge added, “But the difference with this particular moment in slavery was that it intersected with capitalism in a way that was very different with slavery that preceded it. People were taken into the system and their children inherited their status as a slave and that is where the differences started to emerge. We have to think about these things as distinct only because the system that existed with chattel slavery was so radically different than the slavery that existed around the world beforehand.”

With the ongoing protests against police brutality, “Origin of Everything” has also tackled the racist beginnings of United States law. Dr. Bainbridge breaks down the discriminatory history by looking at colonialism, slavery, the Jim Crow era, and mass incarceration.

“I decided to write this episode about legal discrimination, and I didn’t have a particular agenda in mind,” she said. “As I started doing the research it was overwhelming. I started to find (material) that just dealt with legal discrimination about black people in this country from its origin to now. I thought it was something that people needed to know.”

“I was never taught in any history class that I took through high school any of the information from that episode. I was taught that things are fair and that a lot of the blame was placed inadvertently or inherently on black communities, impoverished communities, or communities that struggle. When I saw that in some ways the law was stacked against black people and certain other populations, I thought that was important to bring to light. In this moment, people are looking for reliable sources and this could add to the conversation.”

New episodes of “Origin of Everything” are available on PBS.org and the PBS Digital Studios’ YouTube Channel. Join the conversation by visiting Twitter-@PBSOrigin and Instagram-@pbsoriginofeverything.

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THE REAL: Garcelle is in the Hot Seat About Jamie Foxx! / WATCH

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Garcelle Beauvais1 (the real 09-29-20)
Garcelle Buvais (the real 09-29-20)

Garcelle Beauvais

*On Tuesday, Sept. 29, the ladies of The Real have some follow-up questions for co-host Garcelle Beauvais after her revealing conversation with Jamie Foxx on her podcast.

In an outrageous Girl Chat, Garcelle reveals some shocking secrets, and admits she could be interested in a relationship with her former co-star!

Ravi Patel visits to talk about his new HBO Max docuseries, Ravi Patel’s Pursuit Of Happiness, and reveals how he would like to create his own neighborhood.

Rapper YelloPain drops in to explain what inspired him to come up with the song “My Vote Don’t Count,” and the message he wants to get out to young voters.

And Florida teacher Edith Pride explains why she stood up at a Palm Beach County school board meeting to scold parents on their behavior during their children’s distance learning classes, and the responses she has gotten. The hosts of The Real have a special gift for her!

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The Ladies Have Some Follow-Up Questions For Garcelle About Jamie Foxx!

Loni Love: Last week, Jamie Foxx, who was your coworker since 1996… y’all were in your little Jamie Foxx Show

Adrienne Houghton: I loved it.

Loni: He was on your podcast. Your lovely podcast, Going to Bed With Garcelle. And he admitted that you two probably should have been together! And then – this was all on the podcast, because I was listening, I was like, “Ooh, Jamie, really?” – and he also said that every time like y’all did a movie, and you tried to hook up, you had a boyfriend and he was always mad when you had another dude, and he was acting like real funny. And so then you really responded like –

Adrienne: What?

Loni: …Why didn’t you all get together – oh, y’all gotta listen to her podcast, it was good, right? And then you said that Jamie Foxx – you said, “How we gonna be together?” He hung like a horse! I was like, “What’s wrong with that?” So, I just want to know, Garcelle, what’s going with y’all two?

Garcelle Beauvais (laughing): Adrienne’s face! Oh, look at Jeannie!

Jeannie Mai (ear pressed to the camera): Come on! I got some things to know!

Garcelle: Mind your business, Loni. (laughing). Listen, he and I we have such a great friendship. And when he and I were doing The Jamie Foxx Show we sort of had a pact like we weren’t going to date while we’re working together, right? So two weeks before we were done with our hundredth episode, which was amazing in itself, I got engaged! And he was like, “You couldn’t wait! You couldn’t wait two weeks?” So we’ve had a great friendship, I love him, but you know, sometimes like if we got together we probably wouldn’t be the friends that we are right now. What, what are you doing this for Jeannie?

(Jeannie is raising her hand)

Jeannie: Yeah, yeah, I got a question! Anyway, anyway, Garcelle!

(Garcelle is laughing)

Jeannie: How you know how he’s hung?!

Garcelle: OH!

(Loni starts laughing)

Garcelle: Listen…

Adrienne: That’s what I want to know!

Garcelle: We did a hundred –

Adrienne: That’s what I want to know!

Garcelle: -episodes, right? Every now and then he’d have to like rip off a pair of pants, or some kind of, you know, comedic, you know, act, or whatever, however you want to say it. And it came out, honey. It rolled out.

(So much laughter)

Jeannie: Oh my god!

Garcelle: I love him so much!

Adrienne: Wait! I have more asks!

Garcelle: Never say never! But who knows.

Adrienne: You said what were you gonna do with that! And… and, and.. I’m just curious. Is that not your thing? You’re like, no, it’s too much, like?

Garcelle: It’s a bit much!

Adrienne: Oh Lord Jesus.

Garcelle: I’ve said too much, I’ve said too much.

Loni: OK, all right.

Garcelle: Listen to the podcast! Look at Jeannie!

Loni: Listen to the podcast!

(Jeannie is climbing back into her chair)

Jeannie: Can we end the show?

[EDIT]

Jeannie: Y’all are single now! Why can’t you do the thing?

Adrienne: Yeah!

Jeannie: Why can’t… I don’t get it!

Garcelle: I don’t know! I mean – I don’t know, I don’t know. I think we’re too much in the Friendzone. I don’t know. But let me tell you – he’s a great kisser. Great kisser.

Loni: Ohhhhh.

Jeannie: What are we doing?!!!

Adrienne: These are are reasons for Yes!

Jeannie: What are we doing?

Garcelle (fanning herself): Oh my god, I’m so hot.

Adrienne: You’re literally telling me he’s got everything great about him, but – but… ok, this is real Girl Chat and we keep it very real.

Garcelle: Yes, it’s real.

Jeannie: OK, Garcelle, Garcelle, no, no…

Adrienne: Not just that thing.

Jeannie: Focus this, focus… are you…

Garcelle: So if he asked me out, I would say yes. Can I leave it there?

 

Website: thereal.com

Twitter: @TheRealDaytime

Instagram: http://instagram.com/therealdaytime

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/therealdaytime

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/therealdaytime

 

About THE REAL

THE REAL is a live daily, one-hour, two-time NAACP Image Award-winning and Emmy®-nominated talk show now in its seventh season on Fox Television Stations and in national syndication (check local listings), with a rebroadcast on cable network Bounce. The bold, diverse and outspoken hosts, Garcelle Beauvais and Emmy® Award-winners Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love and Jeannie Mai, all frankly say what women are actually thinking. Their unique perspectives are brought to life through candid conversations about their personal lives, current events, beauty, fashion and relationships (nothing is off limits). Unlike other talk shows, THE REAL hosts are admittedly a “work in progress,” and fearlessly invite viewers to reflect on their own lives and opinions. Fresh points of view, youthful energy and passion have made THE REAL a platform for multicultural women. Produced by Telepictures Productions and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, THE REAL is led by Executive Producer, Rachel Miskowiec (Good Morning America, Katie, The Tyra Banks Show, Judge Hatchett, The Ricki Lake Show) and Co-Executive Producer Tenia Watson (Judge Mathis, Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, WGN-TV Morning News, Just Keke, The Test) and shot in Los Angeles, California.

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Making People Laugh About the Hardships of Teaching Keeps Eddie B. Going (EUR Exclusive!)

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Eddie B
eur eddie b 2

Eddie B.

*Eddie B. hit the mark when his “Teachers Only Comedy Tour” in 2017 played to sold-out audiences. His later show “I’m Already Professionally Developed Tour” was also a huge success.

With funny and telling commentary about what teachers really think has made Eddie B. a hit with educators and comedy fans around the world. While the former teacher is excited about his success, he takes it all in stride.

“People ask me why am I so humble and I don’t know how to answer that,” Eddie B. told the EUR in a recent phone interview. “The only answer I came up with one time is that the more thankful you are you have no choice but to display humbleness. You have to be thankful for what you have. So being humble and thankful go hand in hand.”

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With COVID-19 rendering comedy-tours practically non-existent, the Houston native keeps the jokes coming and his routines fresh by crashing virtual conferences held by, of course, teachers.

“I’m doing a lot of Zooms,” Eddie B. said. “I’m doing everybody’s meetings and convocations. I’ve been busy, busy, busy. Thank God.”

The consummate “class clown,” he was always the funny one in the room and began making serious moves as a comedian while attending Texas A&M University (Kingsville).

Although he was earning a local name for himself, Eddie B. was not making the kind of money he had hoped. Continuing the comedy club circuit after graduation and taking odd jobs, he began teaching because it was steady pay. He remained a teacher for 13 years while still doing comedy.

“A lot of teachers say, ‘I’ve been wanting to teach my whole life. I was born this way.’ No, you weren’t.” the single father laughed. “I’m a tell you right now 70% of all teachers didn’t want to teach. I guarantee you that. Teaching is a profession you get stuck in. The only reason you get stuck is because of the kids. You know the money’s not keeping us. It’s our relationships with the kids and other teachers too – the camaraderie of it all.”

Eddie B. retired from teaching for a short while during his tenure but soon had to return to pay the bills.

“I’m hearing Steve Harvey and ‘em say, ‘You gotta jump. Take the leap,’ That’s cute,” he added. “But what the hell do you do when you take the jump and you get pulled back? I jumped as high as I could and got snatched back down, which led me to believe that it’s got more to do with timing then jumping.”

Down but not out, Eddie B., who showed off his craft on YouTube, said a voice inside his head told him, “’Hey, why don’t you do a video about (teaching)?’ So, I shot it before the kids got in my (school) room and put it out by lunch time. But I was like I don’t even have teaching in my comedy.”

“A couple of days later on my Instagram I got about 100,000 views,” he continued. “I thought something was wrong. I thought it was a glitch. It was just teachers bouncing it off and that was the magic of it. It kept growing and growing. Millions of views and the video was only sixty seconds. It was called ‘What Teachers Really Want to Say’ and I was like man if they like this I’ve got 13 years of this.”

Now that he was getting traction, he had to figure out a way to keep the momentum going with the newer audience.

“What they (the teachers who liked his videos) didn’t know was that I’m a comedian,” Eddie B. said. “They just thought I’m a funny teacher. I had to take what I knew about teaching and put it in a (comedy) set now.”

But could he do that without alienating those who had supported his regular comedy for so long?

“My comedy wasn’t always clean. I used to curse with every other word. I’m from the neighborhood and a large percent of my audience is Caucasian (white women teachers). They don’t want to hear that language. But I’ve been on tour for almost 4 years now and I’ve toned it down. I had to grow with it and learn on the job. It was like teaching.”

For more on Eddie B., and to find out where he may be next virtually and otherwise, go to his official website here.

You can also buy his book, “I’m Already Professionally Developed: Straight from the Teacher’s Desk,” released last year.

eur eddie b 1

Eddie B. (Courtesy of Eddie B.)

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