During the interview, Groening was asked if they had “Michael Jackson” and the comedy writer confirmed that The Simpsons didn’t just have a “Michael Jackson” cameo using an impersonator, they had the real Michael Jackson. “You don’t have to put it in quotes,” Groening said. “We really did have him.”
Groening explained that the singer called him one day out of the blue, asking to be featured in the show, and at first, he didn’t even believe it was really Jackson.
“I was sitting in the office late at night, the phone rings and I pick it up,” he said. When the voice on the other end replied, “‘Hi, this is Michael Jackson,” he assumed it was a prank call because the singer has “a voice that sounds like somebody doing a Michael Jackson bit.”
Jackson called again and insisted that it really was him, and “he said that he loved Bart and wanted to be on the show,” Groening explained.
In the Season 3 premiere episode titled “Stark Raving Dad,” his character, referred to as “the big white guy who thinks he’s the little black guy,” becomes friends with Homer in a mental institution, and they end up leaving together just in time for Lisa’s birthday. Bart and Jackson’s character perform a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday Lisa,” but the post-birthday happiness quickly disappears when Jackson’s character reveals that he’s not actually The King of Pop.
Groening then explained that Jackson appeared as himself when he spoke, but they had to use voice impersonator for the singing moments in order to avoid breaching a contract. “He didn’t want credit for, or there was some kind of deal with his record company or whatever, so when it came time to sing the songs, he had a sound-a-like singer,” said Groening. “He stood there and watched the guy, who was so nervous who had to sound like Michael Jackson, and then he giggled.”
Check out the full interview with Groening below.
— The Weekly (@theweeklytv) August 29, 2018