The Simpsons may be the longest-running sitcom on American TV, but the animated series is far from traditional. Fox has announced that an upcoming episode of the show will include a live segment in the final three minutes in which family patriarch Homer Simpson will discuss current events and answer fan questions.
It’s a big undertaking, especially considering that The Simpsons is, well, animated. While it usually takes months for animation to be ready to air, the three-minute live segment will use motion-capture technology to create a scene that is specific to the episode’s premiere day theme, showrunner Al Jean explained to THR. This will be a new challenge for Dan Castellaneta, the voice actor behind Homer, but Jean assures fans that he is “a great improviser.” He’ll have to be, because Jean promised during an interview with The Wrap that there will be ways to “prove” the segment is live.
The segment is definitely new territory, though. “As far as I know, this is the first time that’s been done by any animated show,” Jean told THR. However, the live section fits in perfectly, given that the episode’s theme deals with improvisational comedy.
While we haven’t seen any animated shows try such a unique format in the past, the motion capture technology has been used successfully by Fox Sports. The Simpsons team was able to learn from the network’s sports programming division and has already conducted multiple tests. Come May, everything sounds like it will be ready to go.
The fact that fans will be able to get involved is also exciting. Fox is inviting viewers to pose questions via Twitter using the hashtag #HomerLive. All tweets should be submitted between Sunday, May 1 and Wednesday, May 4.
The episode will air on May 15, with Homer’s special segment airing live on both coasts’ broadcasts.