Matt Groening opens up about Michael Jackson’s ‘secret’ Simpsons guest spot
It’s something we’ve all known for years, but Groening has finally confirmed it on camera
In the classic 1991 Simpsons episode ‘Stark Raving Dad’, Homer ends up in a mental institution after he lets Bart fill in a psychiatric quiz for him. And while there, he meets one of the show’s most memorable one-off characters: Leon Kompowsky, a big fat white guy who thinks he is Michael Jackson.
Kompowsky sounds and sings exactly like Jackson, though the character is credited to a mysterious “John Jay Smith”. It has long been an open secret that Jackson himself provided his real voice, but as part of him agreeing to do it, the show’s producers were legally forbidden for revealing the truth.
The episode aired 27 years ago, and Jackson of course tragically passed away in 2009. And enough time has passed that the writers are now willing to talk freely about it. Simpsons creator Matt Groening was recently interviewed on Austrailian TV show The Weekly, where he revealed all, on camera.
"We really did have Michael Jackson," Groening told the interviewer. "He did do the show. He didn’t want credit for it, it was some kind of deal with his record company or whatever."
Jackson himself reached out to the show, as he was a fan of Bart - but Groening said that he didn’t believe it was really Jackson when he called, and hung up the phone. "He has a voice that sounds like someone doing a Michael Jackson bit," he explained. Thankfully, Jackson called back.
Hardcore Simpsons fans will know this already though – the DVD commentary for the episode, released back in 2003, already confirmed the legend. Still, it’s cool to see Groening give us a few more details on the story.
And while it is the real Jackson providing Kompowsky’s speaking voice, his singing voice is provided by impersonator Kipp Lenon. In the new interview, Groening implies this was because of something to do with his record company, but on the DVD commentary, producer James L Brooks says the reason was more bizarre – Jackson apparently wanted to play a trick on his brothers.
Kompowsky was set to return in a sequel episode many years later, now voiced by Prince - but the writers clashed with him over the script and the episode was never produced.