After 20 years and nearly 450 episodes, The Simpsons received a surprising distinction: an endorsement from the Vatican.
"I called my father — whose been going to Catholic Mass for 70 years — and I said, 'So it turns out I've been doing God's work all this time,'" laughs longtime executive producer Al Jean. (The official Vatican newspaper praised the show last month for its "realistic and intelligent writing.")
Even without the Roman Catholic Church's approval, the series has thrived. Playing in more than 90 countries, the longest-running prime-time scripted series will simultaneously celebrate its 20th anniversary and 450th episode Sunday. The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3D! On Ice!, airing Sunday at 8:30/7:30c, will look back at both the show's humble origins and worldwide impact.
TVGuide.com talked with Jean — the series' current showrunner and a writer since Season 1 — about the show's anniversary, his favorite characters and guest stars.
The many who went to see Ice Age: The Meltdown this weekend were treated to a 20-second teaser for the long-rumored feature take on The Simpsons. The trailer, which opens on a Superman-like "S" logo — only to reveal it's part of Homer's undershirt tag — and touts a July 27, 2007, release, "is running on 7,000 screens, committing us to opening every place in the world on the same date," exec producer James L. Brooks tells Variety. "Which means, we'd better get started." As for the top-secret story line, Mike Scully, who is penning the film with Simpsons creator Matt Groening, says, "We've taken script security to the point of lunacy, though it helped that we wrote it in Aramaic."