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'The Simpsons' A-List

March 22, 1992|SUSAN KING

How has "The Simpsons" attracted such guest voices as Sting, Aerosmith, Tony Bennett, Danny DeVito, Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco, Jackie Mason, Penny Marshall, Joe Mantega and Larry King?

"The writers get strange notions in their heads and we throw out the names of the people we would most like to do the role and call them up," said "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening. "They almost always say 'yes.' It's especially helpful if they have kids who like the show. I think that's why Danny DeVito did it because his kids like the show."

Groening also has a long list of celebs who have approached him about doing the show.

"Aerosmith let us know they wanted to do the show, so when we wrote a show with them in it we called their managers and they said, 'Forget it.' We said, 'Wait a minute, the band wants to do it.' These days virtually every arrogant, heavy metal band wants to do the show."

In the case of Sting, Groening said, the rocker had never seen the show. But his kids were fans. "Generally people as young as Sting have seen the show but some of the older people we have had on the show, like Tony Bennett, I don't think he had ever seen it. They do a little checking out and find out it is a hip thing to do. These days it's hard for us to imagine anybody turning us down."

The guest celebrities receive a free animation cell of themselves "without a chin," Groening said.

Aerosmith played themselves, but most stars don't. "We are really trying not to pander and do star turns on the show," Groening said. "We don't stop the comedy in order for a star to make a grand entrance... I figure that the worst humiliation is the way we make them look. If they get past that obstacle, they don't have to memorize lines or put on make-up or block their stage moves."

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