The list of shows more influential than 'The Simpsons,' if there is a list at all, is short. Now in its 23rd season Matt Groening's creation has completely altered the face of televised comedies, animated or otherwise. It has helped turn former writers like Conan O'Brien into late-night talk titans, added words to the dictionary, and made the principle characters into juggernauts of American culture.
Sunday marks the show's 500th episode, an astonishingly long run. To commemorate the occasion we happily welcomed producer and casting director Bonnie Pietila, who has been with 'The Simpsons' since its birth as a short on 'The Tracey Ullman Show' and was responsible for all the original casting. In a wide-ranging conversation, we talk about the show's development and evolution, how she found the right actors for the roles, and the multitude of guest stars who have appeared through the years, among other things.
Plus, she's a huge Magic Johnson fan, having attended Michigan State at the same time Johnson was in East Lansing.