John Frink, Executive Producer of “The Simpsons” Talks Show’s Longevity

By Priscilla Liguori 9/20/2015

The Simpsons have been making us laugh since 1989. The 31-time Emmy winning series is nominated for 5 Emmys this year, including Outstanding Animated Series.


Executive Producer John Frink says everyone involved in putting the show together contributes to the show’s 26 year longevity.


Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 1.19.52 AM“The writing has been very strong. The actors are fantastic. I think we have a great show runner Al Jean who just can keep everything on track. We have a talented staff of people from top to bottom who really love the show and I think you have to have that in order for it to translate to the screen,” says Frink.


Frink explains that the process of creating episodes starts with a story retreat which involves the writers presenting stories. He says that once the writers get the green light from the show runners for an episode, they script it and then have it torn apart by writer’s room.


“There’s multiple rewrites before it even hits the table read because in the animation, there is so much time to fuss with things. We do that and then it is read, and we re-write to that. Its recorded three days later and then we go to animatics, colors, and we’re re-writing all along to those things. It’s an extensive rewrite process and most of writing is rewriting,” Frink explains.


Frink shares a rewarding part of the process, “The actors are just so entertaining at the table read and as a writer, you can only hope for that because it won’t be a hard night tonight because they sold that joke or that story.”


CPNpW7jUAAAuyes.jpg_largeIt takes about 9 months after the table read for an episode to go on air. Frink says that the writers room switches between multiple shows in one day to keep things moving.


“When we have to focus on the actual script, it gets quite quiet because there’s a lot of just thinking and trying to get the story to work and to get the right lines to make that story work,” the producer explains.


Although the Simpsons writer’s room is serious at times, the content of the script also makes it very fun. Frink says the writers often go off onto digressions about their own lives and that shows up in the script.


“There are a lot of laughs and that’s the enjoyable part of this thing. Everyone’s super close. We have to as writers in the writer’s room actually have to share a lot. A lot of what you see on screen is coming from the lives of the people in the writer’s room. I think it really translates and works to find fun story ideas,” Frink shares.


Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 1.21.01 AMFrink talks about how the writers continue to write new jokes for the same characters, “After closing in on 600 stories now, it’s a challenge, but as long as people keep living and doing stupid stuff, we will keep going.”


Whenever Frink writes a script, he likes to sneak in the character named after himself. Frink explains that Professor John Frink was born before he even worked at the show when friends of his contacted him to ask to use his name for a character.


“I didn’t really realize that he existed more than one time but he continued and he has lasted until this day and has even grown bigger. There’s a Frink episode coming up that’s all Frink and whose name is said constantly throughout the whole thing and it’s fantastic,” he says.
Frink jokes, “I am really the second in line because whenever they mention Frink around here, I know they aren’t talking about me. They’re talking about the character.”


Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 1.20.20 AMWhile many characters like Frink are constant, Simpsons fans got worried when showrunner Al Jean leaked a huge change to the relationship of the main Simpsons couple. Jean told Variety magazine that Homer and Marge would be legally separating.


Frink says he can’t reveal anything, but promises that what’s to come sure will be interesting.


“Trust me, the family will be intact by the end of this episode, I believe. We’ll see…we can’t change animation right up to the minute so I think everything will be fine,” Frink reassures fans.


Frink talks about how he feels about the separation, “I don’t like destroying this fantastic family. I think this will end up fine and America will end up happy.”


In fact, Frink says he thinks the show can go on indefinitely,  “We’ll use synthetic voices as some of our actors get older. It will go on. There are some people who are calling for it to be killed today but I think its still a valuable piece of work that people enjoy.”