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Bart Simpson in the Flesh ... Sort Of

Also: Season premieres and other sweeps fun; plus, this week's episodes.

By Steve Ryfle     October 30, 2000

So there I was, participating in this silly little 'meet the authors' event last Friday night at a suburban shopping mall. It was organized by the alumni association of my alma mater, to give exposure (whatever that means) to those of us who (A) admit we graduated from this school, and (B) managed to get our work published, nevertheless. There we were, 25 or so writers, chatting amongst ourselves because no one at the mall seemed interested in our books. Then we all got up and gave little speeches about our work: there were people who'd written stuff about female war correspondents, herbal supplements, and two guys who wrote books full of unfunny jokes. Then, I got up and talked about my Godzilla bookhow I went to Japan, all that stuffbut then I realized that, just as I was totally uninterested in their stuff, everyone else was totally uninterested in mine. I said, 'peace out,' like a jackass, and sat down again.

And then, Bart Simpson walked through the door.

It was Nancy Cartwright, the diminutive voice actress. In case we didn't recognize her, she introduced herself with, 'I'm Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?' Ha ha ha. She was so tiny she had to stand atop one of the speakers in the PA system so we could see her. From what I gathered, this unplanned cameo happened when someone spotted Cartwright browsing in the nearby Borders bookstore and brought her over to our corner. Being a good sport, she gave everybody a little pep talk, and then spent a few minutes plugging her new book, 'My Life as a Ten-Year-Old Boy,' which will be released by Hyperion on Halloween.

Even with such a heavyweight publisher behind her, not to mention the worldwide popularity of The Simpsons and the FOX media machine, Cartwright lamented that she's had to do a lot of her own publicity and PR for the book, something that a lot of authors in the crowd, many of whom were self-published (not me, dude!), could relate to. Then again, most any author would probably be glad to do their own promotional work, if it means going on a book-signing tour in major cities. That's what Cartwright's about to do; look for her at Borders stores in New York, the Los Angeles area and other locations soon.

I thumbed through a copy of 'My Life as a Ten-Year-Old Boy' that was sitting on the display table, and it looks pretty interesting. Cartwright is both the most popular Simpsons character and the least-visible member of the show's cast. Dan Castellaneta (Homer) has done lots of TV work; Julie Kavner (Marge) has starred in films; Yeardley Smith (Lisa) has also done TV, and of course Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer are gods. So it's interesting that Cartwright, who's been doing Bart's voice since The Simpsons debuted on The Tracey Ullman Show in the late 1980s, is the first to come out with an 'insider' book on the show. She's also done the voices of Todd Flanders, Nelson Munce and other characters, but never female characters. Weird. Anyhow, the book looks like it's got anecdotes about Simpsons recording sessions galore, including stuff with guest stars like Liz Taylor and Meryl Streep.

So, it made for an interesting evening at the mall. And I haven't even told you anything about David Gerrold ('The Trouble With Tribbles'), who's also an alum from my school, or how Shirley MacLaine rubbed my head. Maybe some other time, if you're good.

SWEEPS MADNESS!

It's a good week to watch TV, if that's your bag. And we're not talking about that Growing Pains reunion movie, either. Here's a sampling of what's in store for fandom during sweeps week (check local listings for show times in your area):

* Speaking of The Simpsons, the annual Halloween special, Treehouse of Horror XI, is on Wednesday, and senior rockers The Who are the feature guests on the 12th season premiere (and 250th episode overall) on Sunday night on FOX.

* The long-awaited (yawn) eighth season premiere of The X-Files takes place Sunday night on FOX. Will Robert Patrick make a fitting replacement for David Duchovny? Will anyone watch? Does Gillian Anderson still need this job?

* The X-Men gravy train keeps rolling with the Saturday morning debut of X-Men: Evolution, a new animated series on the WB network that traces the superheroes' adolescent years.

* Buffy fans might want to check out Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula, a cheesy TV movie (starring Rudolf Martin, who recently played the Romanian prince on the aforementioned vampire-slayer show), which debuts Tuesday night on the USA Network.
Check out the editorial links at the bottom of this article for an interview with Rudolf Martin.

NEW YORK'S HELLUVA HALLOWEEN


* If you've never been in New York City on Halloween night, then you must watch the New York Village Halloween Parade Tuesday night on the Sci-Fi Channel. This 27-year-long tradition literally fills the streets of lower Manhattan with thousands upon thousands of costumed ghouls, weirdos, monsters, sickos and other cool stuff, and lines the sidewalks with wimpy spectators too queasy to participate. This is the first time this thing has ever been televised nationally. Kathy Griffin will host. Trust me, this ain't like watching Dick Clark and the dropping ball on New Year's. This is cool.

THE ROAD TO ROSWELL

Fans of Roswell take note: the WB Network's website (www.wbnetwork.com) features the first installment of a two-part interview with the show's creator, Jason Katims. Along with the usual fluff, the interview actually goes over some fairly interesting stuff about how Katims got started as a writer and made it in TV and film. 'I didn't really have a lot of success when I first started [writing], he says. 'It was quite a long time before I wound up earning a living doing it. And even though during that period I would have killed for a job, I'm grateful now for that time because I feel like that time helped me develop a voice. And there's something freeing about the fact that nobody gives a shit what you write, and nobody cares what you're writing about. There's something freeing about that because it allows you to really write in a very pure way. You're not servicing anybody; you're not writing for a producer or a TV studio or a network or an actor or anything like that; and you're just writing.'

UPCOMING EPISODES

* This week on Roswell (WB, Monday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central), 'Max travels back in time to the present to tell Liz that their relationship will jeopardize the very future of his planet, so they devise a plan to change the fate of the aliens by betraying Present Day Max in a way he will never forget.'

* There's a double dose of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (WB, Tuesday @ 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7 p.m. Central, and again at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central). In the first episode, 'Fear Itself,' here's what happens: 'Buffy reluctantly agrees to join Willow, Oz and Xander at a Halloween party where they stumble into a real-life house of horrors masquerading as an innocuous fraternity. Meanwhile, Giles is called upon to help out the college crowd when all he wants is to get into the spirit of the holiday.'

The second Buffy episode is 'Halloween.' Here's the lowdown: 'Buffy, Willow and Xander are recruited by Principal Snyder to trick-or-treat with the neighborhood kids, but the night doesn't turn out as they had planned when Buffy's costume causes her to lose her slaying ability and the other kids transform into their costume characters.'

* On this week's Charmed (WB, Thursday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central), 'After the manor is burglarized, Prue, Phoebe and Piper become obsessed with learning more about the elusive evil force that is hunting them.'

* There's likewise a two-episode outing of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch this week (WB, Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 7 p.m. Central, and again at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central). In the first episode, titled 'Welcome Traveler,' here's what goes down: 'When Sabrina tries to pull Miles away from his latest conspiracy theory and into some semblance of a social life, she unknowingly pushes him right into the hands of a cult whose eccentric leader (guest star Richard Kline of 'Three's Company') claims to be a witch.'


The second Sabrina is a rerun, 'No Place Like Home.' The scoop: 'Sabrina unexpectedly moves to Paris with her father (guest star Doug Sheenan) on her eighteenth birthday, but after she confesses all she wanted for her birthday was to attend the Britney Spears concert back home, he arranges for a private appearance by Britney herself.'

* On Dark Angel (FOX, Tuesday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central), 'Max and Original Cindy help Sketchy contend with a mob boss.'

* And finally, on FreakyLinks (FOX, Friday @ 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central), 'Derek and gang investigate reports of a deadly animal in New Mexico desert.'

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