The live episode of The Simpsons is set to air May 15 on Fox, when Homer Simpson will take some pre-screened questions from viewers during the last three minutes of the East and West Coast broadcasts. (Somewhere, Midwestern fans are punching their hands through their hats.) While it once seemed that the concept would put a terrible strain on the animators’ wrists, longtime showrunner Al Jean recently put those carpal tunnel-fueled concerns to rest in an interview with press.
This “live” version of Homer will be created via motion-capture technology, which won’t even require Dan Castellaneta to slap on a bunch of electrodes or dots. For Jean and crew, Homer was the obvious choice to field the Q&A, thanks to Castellaneta’s improv chops. This “interview” segment will follow an episode about Homer’s own foray into improv comedy, which he takes up after performing disastrously during a speech at the nuclear plant. Castellaneta’s motion-captured gestures will be added to the background, which has been preanimated and will feature a few jokes of its own.
And how will we know that we aren’t just watching a regular old episode? With few daily newspapers left to be held up as proof of life, the network has asked viewers to submit their most burning questions by calling in to (888) 726-6660 from 8:00-8:30 p.m. ET and 8:00-8:30 p.m. PT. Their queries will have to be approved before being posed on the air, and there will be a seven-second delay to prevent on-air vulgarity that’s not coming from Homer.
Participants, who must be 18 or older, are asked to address the Simpsons patriarch in their questions and not Castellaneta, who after all only works here. Jean told The A.V. Club that most of the rehearsals have gone swimmingly, and that technical problems have been few and far between. If something does go wrong, though, a fallback has been recorded to ensure a full episode airs. It is not currently known whether anyone will be fired for those blunders.