Following on the heels of some very ugly, very public negotiations with Fox Television that left the future of the show in peril, The Simpsons will see at least 25 seasons before it rides off into the sunset.
That guarantee allowed fans, the studio and the cast to collectively exhale and now Fox is promoting this Sunday's episode--the series' 500th--as the television landmark that it is. In terms of scripted television, only Lassie and Gunsmoke have aired more episodes than The Simpsons.
To mark the occasion, the studio today unveiled a bronze bust of Homer Simpson which will grace the lot. Highlights from the ceremony, including comments by series creator Matt Groening, can be seen in the video below, provided by Fox All Access.
"It's almost impossible to think about Fox without simultaneously thinking about the show," said a Fox representative at today's unveiling. The series, which was born out of a series of animated shorts on the long-gone Tracey Ullman Show, is widely credited as the single show that gave credibility to Fox, which became the "fourth network" (along with ABC, CBS and NBC) in the late 1980s.
The Simpsons was the first Fox show to break the top 30 in ratings, back when the network was airing very little in the way of original programming and still relying on syndicated shows developed by other networks to fill most of its schedule. It has since developed into a multi-billion dollar cash cow for the network. Matt Groening has segued the success into another show (Futurama, currently airing on Comedy Central but underwritten by Fox) as well as a comic book company and 12 Emmy Awards.
Added Groening, "See you all here 23 years from today for the celebration of the 1,000th episode."