The Simpsons is making another big change in response to a controversy — this time, not one of its own making.
Executive Producer James L. Brooks, creator Matt Groening, and producer Al Jean have agreed to archive the show's Season 3 premiere episode, "Stark Raving Dad," after watching HBO's explosive documentary Leaving Neverland.
The two-part documentary series aired last week and featured the incredibly disturbing stories of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who allege that they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson when they were children. After screening the harrowing doc, the trio collectively decided to pull the episode from availability on streaming services, includingSimpsons World, and any syndicated reruns.
"It feels clearly the only choice to make," Brooks told The Wall Street Journal. "The guys I work with — where we spend our lives arguing over jokes — were of one mind on this [decision]."
"Stark Raving Dad," which originally aired in 1991, followed Homer Simpson as he was sent to an insane asylum and met a man proclaiming to be the King of Pop himself. Eventually, the man's true identity was revealed as Leon Kompowsky, a man whose used Michael Jackson's voice as a way to make others around him happy, and while Leon himself was an imposter, it was actually Jackson who voiced the character under the pseudonym John Jay Smith — except for during Leon's performance of the "Happy Birthday" song.
The episode was initially written for Jackson, who was a fan and told Brooks that he was interested in contributing his voice to the series. Jackson also wrote the show's soundtrack song, "Do the Bartman." Of the decision to delete the episode, Brooks told WSJ that while he is "against book burning of any kind," he and his colleagues feel that "this is our book, and we're allowed to take out a chapter."
The Simpsons also recently wrote out longtime Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu (which was voiced by Hank Azaria) in response to widening backlash over the character's stereotypical depiction of south Asian people.
The Simpsons airs on Sundays at 8/7c on Fox.