Wednesday, October 29, 2003

NEW YORK - Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel threatened to sue the makers of “The Simpsons” over a parody of the channel’s right-wing political stance, the creator of the hit television show has claimed.

In an interview this week with National Public Radio, Matt Groening said the news channel had considered legal action, despite the fact that “The Simpsons” is broadcast on sister network Fox Entertainment.

According to Mr. Groening, Fox took exception to a “Simpsons” version of the Fox News rolling news ticker with headlines such as “Do Democrats Cause Cancer?”

“Fox fought against it and said they would sue the show,” Mr. Groening said.

“We called their bluff, because we didn’t think Rupert Murdoch would pay for Fox to sue itself. So we got away with it.”

Other satirical Fox News bulletins featured in the show included: “Study: 92 percent of Democrats are gay,” “JFK posthumously joins Republican Party” and “Oil slicks found to keep seals young, supple.”

Although the lawsuit never materialized, Mr. Groening said some action was taken.

“Now Fox has a new rule that we can’t do those little fake news crawls on the bottom of the screen in a cartoon because it might confuse the viewers into thinking it’s real news,” he said.

Fox spokesman Robert Zimmerman voiced surprise at Mr. Groening’s comments, saying the network had never considered legal action.

“We’re scratching our heads over here,” Mr. Zimmerman said. “We thought the show was hysterical.”

“The Simpsons,” featuring the dysfunctional family of patriarch Homer Simpson and his rowdy brood, is in its 14th year and is expected to become the longest-running situation comedy in U.S. history in 2005.


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