Hank AzariaLatest News and Opinion
Posted Monday 4/23/18 at 5:51AM EDT
Brent Musburger gets in a "feud" with Hank Azaria's Brockmire, calling him "Buckmeier"
The fake feud between the iconic sports announcer and the fictional IFC sports announcer played out last week on The Rich Eisen Show.
Posted Monday 4/16/18 at 11:31PM EDT
The Simpsons' Apu controversy is what happens when a show is stuck in an eternal 1990
"The show seems to take pride in the way it hasn’t changed since 1989, even as change is a fact of life," Todd VanDerWerff says of "the horrible way" showrunner Al Jean has reacted to the controversy over Apu. "And for a show that likes to satirize everything, its inability to talk about aging, about shifting political opinions, about how different America has become, ends up miring it in a past it could so easily escape." With the Roseanne revival in mind, VanDerWerff wonders what would've happened if Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge and Maggie had grown up? What if they were 29 years older? "I keep thinking about a Simpsons where everything had changed, and just by its very nature, such a show would have had to deal with Apu slightly better (though (Hank) Azaria would probably still be playing him)," he says. "When things can change within your fictional universe, it’s only natural for the characters to grow and change with them. "
Posted Saturday 4/14/18 at 12:07AM EDT
A journalist of South Asian descent says "most of us happily embraced Apu" in the 1990s, but The Simpsons can fix its most controversial character
"For those of us with low expectations, starving for any representation, Apu was a breath of fresh air," says Wajahat Ali, the son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants who grew up near Silicon Valley. While other portrayals showed brown people as cab drivers or terrorists, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon "was an integral character in the Simpsons universe who was able to be a co-protagonist of several episodes," he says. "Only in a cartoon, we thought, could people who look like us achieve such a feat." But that doesn't mean Apu or The Simpsons "get a lifetime pass to perpetuate lazy stereotypes," he says. "Any piece of art, no matter how well intentioned, harmless or silly, is not above reproach or critical examination... Instead of engaging with the issue of representation, which would have made for a more satirical and topical show — you know, the type The Simpsons used to do years ago — the writers responded with the worst creative sin: laziness." What The Simpsons shouldn't have done, he says, is "hijack your show’s most intellectual and empathetic voice, Lisa, as a foil for the writers’ unwillingness to be self-critical and engage their blind spots when it comes to listening to people of color who feel silenced and misunderstood. Thus, the show engages in another major sin: omission. After Lisa’s finger-wagging, the camera pans to a photo of Apu with the inscription 'Don’t have a cow!' Apu, who is a supporting character, is robbed of lines, rendered mute and frozen in a suffocating frame, smiling as a token prop. That’s exactly how so many people of color feel in real life — all the time." Ali adds: "What The Simpsons should have done was a stand-alone episode centered on Apu, who, after becoming a citizen many years ago, is confronted with an immigrant travel ban...Nobody would have a cow. But we would have an intelligent, critical, satirical show that at least confronts problematic issues instead of running away from them."
- Showrunner Al Jean explained why Lisa Simpson defended Apu, but why did she look at the camera?
- Jean criticized for tweeting conservative media in The Simpsons' defense
- Jean tweeted a link to the National Review piece: "Why the Apu Simpsons Controversy Bothers Me as an Indian American"
- Harry Shearer stuck up for the show, tweeting to Hari Kondabolu: "Bart, a pre-pubescent boy, is played by an adult woman. What's up with that?"
- BoJack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg slammed The Simpsons response: "Imagine choosing to describe yourself and your work as 'applauded and inoffensive'"
- Bill Maher defends The Simpsons' response to Apu: "If you spend your time combing through old TV shows to identify stuff that by today’s standards looks bad, you’re not ‘woke,’ you’re just a douchebag"
Posted Monday 4/09/18 at 6:11PM EDT
The Simpsons' response to Apu is what happens when a show loses its identity after being on for "a long damn time"
The Simpsons was once the rebellious outsider, says Jen Chaney. Now, it's the Establishment, incapable of grappling with Apu. "When it first dominated the pop-culture landscape in the early 1990s," says Cheney, "a lot of the show’s appeal stemmed from its skillful and fearless tendency to jam its thumb in the eye of the American Establishment, by highlighting white male laziness via Homer, the crass privileged class via Mr. Burns, and a whole host of other marks of ignorance — from sexism to intolerance of vegetarians — via the crusading Lisa Simpson, the show’s perpetual 8-year-old voice of reason. For all of the stereotypes he has embodied, even some of the jokes generated by Apu actually pointed a finger at the abhorrent attitudes that Indian-Americans have to tolerate from their Caucasian counterparts." Chaney adds: "One could argue that The Simpsons is now the Establishment, and has been for a while. Once you become the Establishment, there is a tendency become lazy and complacent, while also feeling fiercely defensive of one’s legacy. In my view, that combination of factors plays a key role in the show’s inability to fully own up to the Apu problem."
- The Simpsons was "utterly dishonest" with its response since Apu isn't a central character: "His existence at the periphery — his very flatness, and his definition as a bag of signifiers meant to scream 'INDIAN!' is integral to what it means to write a racist stereotype," says Linda Holmes. "It's galling that writers will force a character to exist as funny scenery and then complain that they cannot change him without upsetting the emotional arc of the series."
- The Simpsons didn't have to address the controversy -- Apu has become "a genuine, multidimensional character" -- but last night's episode amounted to a "glib 'f*ck off"
- The Simpsons made Lisa Simpson sound like a "wealthy middle-aged white male writer"
- Molly Ringwald demonstrated how to address problematic past depictions with her recent New Yorker essay on her John Hughes films
Posted Monday 4/09/18 at 1:45PM EDT
The Simpsons dismisses Apu criticism, sparking backlash
The Simpsons' acknowledgement of the Apu controversy on Sunday's episode came nearly five months after Hari Kondabolu's The Problem with Apu documentary made headlines by delving into the hit cartoon's Indian-American stereotype. "On Sunday night, The Simpsons, a cultural staple and television’s longest-running sitcom, now in its 29th season, finally responded: with a dismissive nod that earned the show more criticism, especially from Mr. Kondabolu himself," writes Sopan Deb, adding: "The writers of the episode — one of whom was Matt Groening, the show’s creator — received immediate backlash. Some viewers found the response tone deaf, and criticized the choice of Lisa, often the show’s moral center, to voice it." For his part, Kondabolu sent out a series of tweets last night saying "The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress." This morning, he added: "TO THE JOURNALISTS WHO HAVE ASKED ME FOR A PUBLIC STATEMENT ABOUT LAST NIGHT’S SIMPSONS EPISODE, I JUST WANT SAY: 'Congratulations to the Simpsons for being talked about & being seen as relevant again.'"
- W. Kamau Bell: Having Lisa Simpson make this "argument" was what it made it most ridiculous and toothless
- The Simpsons' response was petty and remarkably regressive
- It was a surprisingly glib response considering Hank Azaria's thoughtful response to the controversy
- It was remarkably tone-deaf and callous response
- Asked to comment, Showrunner Al Jean said: "No the episode speaks for itself"
- On Twitter, Jean defended Apu by noting that Hank Azaria won an Emmy for voicing the character
- Jean also retweeted a Twitter user who tweeted "I'm Indian" and "Loved how you guys handled this non-issue"
Posted Thursday 3/29/18 at 2:13PM EDT
IFC renews Brockmire for two seasons, announces Documentary Now! will return in 2019
Hank Azaria's baseball announcer comedy has been picked up for a third and fourth season. At IFC's upfront event, executive producer Seth Meyers said of Documentary Now!'s extended hiatus: "I think the year off will be helpful. I think when we come back, you know, fingers crossed, when you take time and come back you do those Roseanne numbers.” ALSO: Check out Brockmire's Season 2 key art.
Posted Wednesday 2/21/18 at 7:00PM EST
Brockmire visits New Orleans in Season 2 trailer
Watch the trailer for Season 2 of Hank Azaria's IFC comedy, which premieres April 25.
Posted Friday 1/12/18 at 6:58PM EST
Hank Azaria: The Simpsons will “definitely address” criticism over the Apu character
Azaria didn’t say if The Simpsons reached out to comedian Hari Kondabolu to discuss Apu after his The Problem with Apu documentary made headlines. But Azaria said at the TV press tour, while promoting Brockmire for IFC, that “they will definitely address, maybe publicly but certainly creatively within the context of the show, what they want to do, if anything, differently with the character.” Azaria also said he’s been thinking a lot about the criticism about the Indian immigrant character. "The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased — or worse — based on the character of Apu on The Simpsons, or the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing, especially in post-9/11 America," he said. "The idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally."
Posted Friday 1/12/18 at 6:58PM EST
IFC renews Stan Against Evil, sets Brockmire’s return and reveals that Documentary Now! won’t return till 2019
Hank Azaria’s Brockmire will be back for Season 2 on April 25, while Stan Against Evil should return this fall.
Posted Monday 12/04/17 at 9:35PM EST
The Problem with Apu’s Hari Kondabolu wants The Simpsons to make Apu more interesting, not drop the character
Kondabolu tells TMZ he doesn’t want to see Hank Azaria discontinue the Indian character or the accent. He would just like Apu to stop being so one-dimensional and predictable. ALSO: It seems like Azaria missed the point of Kondabolu's film.
Posted Monday 12/04/17 at 7:43AM EST
Hank Azaria: The Problem with Apu “gave us a lot of things to think about and we really are thinking about it”
TMZ asked The Simpsons star about Hari Kondabolu’s recent documentary. Azaria responded that “I think it’s an important conversation worth having. We’re still thinking about it. It’s a lot to digest.” He also said: “Definitely anybody that was hurt or offended by it, or by any character or vocal performance, it’s really upsetting that it was offensive or hurtful to anybody.” After TMZ posted its video, Kondabolu tweeted: “Apu doesn’t ‘offend’ me, he ‘insults’ me...and my community. I’m an adult with bigger things to deal with. My film was meant to tell you to go f*ck yourself & discuss why I want you to go fuck yourself & how we can prevent future incidents of people wishing others ‘self-f*ckery.’”
Posted Saturday 11/18/17 at 12:32AM EST
In The Problem With Apu, it’s unclear whether The Simpsons’ “most embarrassing" character should be rehabilitated, recast or eliminated
Comedian Hari Kondabolu’s 50-minute documentary, airing Sunday on truTV, scrutinizes the Apu character and the way it has come to represent stereotypes of Indian-Americans. Yet the documentary is thrown off course a bit by his obsessive pursuit of Hank Azaria, the voice of Apu, who sends an encouraging letter but declines to speak on behalf of the show. ALSO: It sometimes feels like an in-depth Daily Show field piece.
Posted Thursday 9/28/17 at 4:23PM EDT
The Simpsons’ Apu is taken to task in the truTV documentary The Problem With Apu
Watch the trailer for South Asian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu’s exploration of the legacy of the Indian convenience store owner, voiced by Hank Azaria. "I was obsessed with The Simpsons growing up and it has greatly influenced my comedy," says. "However, as my mother proves, you can criticize something you love because you expect more from it.” The Problem With Apu premieres Nov. 19.