The Simpsons episode “Stark Raving Dad” is considered one of the most iconic episodes from the show’s early run — but it will now be harder for fans to view.
Michael Jackson infamously provided a voice for the episode, which aired as the show’s Season 3 premiere on Sept. 19, 1991. His involvement was uncredited, and only rumored to be Jackson’s voice until it was finally confirmed to actually be him, years later. But now, following the extensive allegations of sexual assault by Jackson as chronicled in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” “The Simpsons” producers have decided to pull the episode from rotation.
“It feels clearly the only choice to make,” executive producer James L. Brooks told the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news on Thursday. He told the paper that fellow executive producers Matt Groening and Al Jean agreed with the decision. “The guys I work with — where we spend our lives arguing over jokes — were of one mind on this,” Brooks said.
Reached by email, Jean told Variety that “I agree with Jim, nothing else to add.”
In the episode, Jackson voiced the character Leon Kompowsky, who meets Homer Simpson in a mental institution. Simpson brings home the character, a large white man who claims to be Michael Jackson. Ultimately, Leon helps Bart Simpson celebrate his sister’s birthday by singing one of the show’s most memorable tunes, “Happy Birthday Lisa.” Jackson didn’t actually sing on the episode; Kipp Lennon mimicked Jackson’s voice on all of the episode’s songs.
“This was a treasured episode. There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesn’t allow them to remain,” Brooks told the newspaper. He said it would take time, however, for the show to be removed from syndication, as well as FXX’s “Simpsons World” on-demand service, and future reissues of its DVD sets.
“I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter,” he told the Journal.
“Stark Raving Dad” is also remembered for another famous “Simpsons” moment: After then-President George H.W. Bush made a speech in which he said, “we are going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family, to make American families a lot more like ‘the Waltons’ and a lot less like the ‘Simpsons,’ the producers quickly added an open where the family was watching that speech — with Bart turning to his family to say, “Hey, we’re just like ‘The Waltons.’ We’re praying for an end to the Depression, too.”