'The Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Explains Upcoming Live Segment

'The Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Explains Upcoming Live Segment
Earlier this year, we learned that The Simpsons would continue its long practice of trying out gimmicky new ideas by airing a live segment. For a cartoon to attempt such a feat is confusing as hell, but fortunately showrunner Al Jean has brought us up to speed on exactly what's going to happen.

At the end of the show's May 15th episode entitled "Simprovised," Homer Simpson will appear onscreen for a three-minute, improvised chat. In this segment, he'll answer questions from fans via a toll-free hotline.

The whole thing will be animated via motion-capture technology. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jean explained that the three-minute run time is due to the limitations of the technology.

"The actor just speaks into a mic, and the camera records his motions, and transfers it to the character onscreen," Jean said of the technology. "However, you can only do that with one or at most two characters. The backgrounds don't change and the character can't really interact with somebody in the background. We have background jokes that are pre-set. For three minutes, that's fine. For 30 minutes, I think people would get pretty tired of it. Anything's possible in the future, but at the moment, three seemed like the perfect amount."

Further, Jean said the technology has been running smoothly in their test trials, but he doesn't mind the thought of something going wrong. "We haven't had any glitches yet," he said. "I always feel — and this is the whole SNL philosophy: If there's a little glitch, that's fun, too. That's the excitement of live television. And to my knowledge, no animated show has done this before… I think this is going to be really incredible — or incredibly terrible."

To answer the fan questions, Homer will appear in a secret FOX bunker (pictured above). There's a chance that he'll comment on the day's events in addition to answering fan questions. Further, the east and west coast broadcasts of the show will offer different live segments.

Simprovised will air on May 15.