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Jay Leno Lit The Fuse For The Simpsons Feud That Inspired Flaming Moe’s


Simon was always being overlooked. “Springfield Confidential” recalled the exciting time when “The Simpsons” first debuted, and the flurry of newspaper articles mentioning its success. Evidently, Simon would look through reviews, essays, and other reportage and find his name missing from all of them. Groening was mentioned, as was executive producer James L. Brooks, but Simon began to feel like “the other guy.” 

Simon had previously worked on hit shows like “Cheers” and “Taxi,” and he was the one who assembled and led the “Simpsons” writer’s room. Regardless, Groening was cited as the sole driving force behind the show. It was Groening who was interviewed by the trades, and Groening who was invited to speak on “The Tonight Show.” Indeed, when Groening visited “The Tonight Show” on September 26, 1991, the cartoonist aimed to give credit where credit was due and name all of the best “Simpsons” team members on the air. Jay Leno, sadly, kept cutting him off. For Leno, it seems the more interesting story was that a sole underground cartoonist rattled all of pop culture single handedly, not that a dedicated team of hardworking, old-school professionals made a great show. 

By Mike Reiss’ estimation, the constant veneration of Groening paired with the dearth of credit he received, made Simon livid. Reiss compared him to Salieri from “Amadeus,” furious that the “young upstart” was taking over the world, while he, a genius, still languished in obscurity. Eventually, Simon started treating Groening poorly in the office, glowering at him and making snide remarks at his expense. 

It should come as no surprise that Simon pitched the idea for “Flaming Moe’s,” a story about one person — Moe — receiving all the credit for another person’s hard work — Homer. 

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