Families that changed TV
By Mary McNamara, Television Critic
In the beginning there was "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," white middle-class families reflected an advertising ideal as much as a demographic reality. Mom stayed home, Dad worked in the office, the kids got in the sort of trouble that could be solved by a quiet talk at the kitchen table. But even "Ozzie and Harriet" wasn't quite what it seemed -- the TV (and before that the radio) show was a solution to a very modern problem -- bandleader Ozzie Nelson and his singer wife Harriet needed a career shift that would give them regular hours and a way to raise their family.
Over the years, TV dealt more overtly with the ever-changing definition of family. With its second family/gay family/nuclear family combo, "Modern Family" (with Eric Stonestreet, above) may be a hat trick, but it is just one of the ground-breakers that TV has seen over the years. (Ron Tom / Associated Press)
"The Simpsons" may be going strong in its 25th season, but a major character from the long-running animated series will soon meet his or her maker.
In a conference call with reporters last week, executive producer Al Jean revealed plans to kill off a character in the season ahead.
"We’re actually working on a script where a character will pass away," Jean said. "I’ll give a clue that the actor playing the character won an Emmy for playing that character, but I won’t say who it is."
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"Simpsons" fanatics will know that this hint doesn't exactly narrow things down: Nearly every member of the core ensemble of voice-over performers has won an Emmy, including Dan Castellaneta (Homer, Barney, Krusty), Julie Kavner (Marge, Patty, Selma), Hank Azaria (Apu, practically everyone else on the show), Nancy Cartwright (Bart) and Yeardley Smith (Lisa).
Even a few guest stars have picked up Emmys for "Simpsons" appearances, including Anne Hathaway for voicing Princess Penelope and Kelsey Grammer for Sideshow Bob.
In other words, pretty much anyone could go. Death has come to Springfield in the past, most recently with the untimely passing of Maude Flanders, wife of the Simpsons' preternaturally cheerful next-door neighbor Ned, who bit the dust after falling off a grandstand at the racetrack.
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The 25th season of "The Simpsons" premiered Sunday night with a "Homeland" spoof guest starring Kristen Wiig. In the press call, Jean also teased some other highlights in the season ahead, including a "Futurama" crossover episode set to air sometime in May and a wedding, officiated by Stan Lee, for Comic Book Guy.
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Jimmy Fallon, the Roots and Muppets perform 'Sesame Street' theme
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