Pop Culture

D'oh! Newsmakers who've created a stir on 'The Simpsons'

Michael Jackson as Leon, Paul McCartney as himself, and John Waters as John on "The Simpsons."

“The Simpsons” hits the big 500th episode Sunday, and what better way to mark the occasion than by casting controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the milestone show? Sure, he's currently under house arrest, is facing sex crimes allegations and has released classified information, but he's not the only headline-making guest "The Simpsons" has featured (although he may very well be the most controversial). 

Ricky Gervais: 'Angry Dad: The Movie'

In this 2011 episode, Bart gets miffed when Homer takes credit for his award-winning film “Angry Dad” in an acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. Sound familiar? Gervais, known for his cheeky digs at fellow celebrities, was blasted for his hosting role at the 68thGolden Globes Awards. This "Simpsons" episode spoofs that with a brilliant bit by Gervaisinteracting with the bartender at the Globes. On the bar is a photo of Gervais and a caption reading, “Do Not Allow This Man to Host.”

Richard Gere: 'She of Little Faith'

When Lisa loses her faith in Christianity in 2001, she turns to Buddhism. And who is there to help her? None other than the handsome actor, who had his own agenda for this episode. Gere has been a tireless supporter of Tibetan independence and wanted to bring his Free Tibet message to the masses with the episode. That didn’t happen, but he did get his request to have Buddhism be treated accurately.

Tony Blair: 'The Regina Monologues'

In this 2003 episode, the Simpson family travels to the United Kingdom and make a lot of trouble for the Queen. But when they first arrive, they were greeted by none other than then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair who appeared as himself. (Which meant nothing to Homer, who thought Blair was Mr. Bean.) Doesn't seem like a big deal, right? Wrong. Blair was blasted by critics for taping a guest voice for the show during the height of the war in Iraq.

John Waters: 'Homer's Phobia'

"The Simpsons" has a long history of bringing up gay issues, and has even offered the continuing saga of Waylon Smithersin love with his boss, Montgomery Burns. But this 1997 episode was the first time an entire episode was dedicated to a gay theme. Subculture artist and filmmaker John Waters was tapped to voice the gay character John, whom Homer deems a bad influence on Bart. The Fox censors didn’t want the episode to air, but when a new exec cleaned house, the episode went on without a hitch. The episode went on to win an Emmy and a GLAAD Media Award.

Linda and Paul McCartney: 'Lisa the Vegetarian'

A good number of this year's Grammy viewers may not know know who Sir Paul is (did you see all the tweets asking who he was?!), but landing the pop legend and his wife, Linda, on "The Simpsons" was quite a coup in 1995. McCartney and his late wife were pushing a vegetarian lifestyle at the time and Lisa was the perfect conduit. The superstar agreed to lend his voice to the show on the condition that Lisa remain a vegetarian, which she has.

Michael Jackson: 'Stark Raving Dad'

The pop superstar'sappearance in the 1991 season three premiere (two years before the child abuse allegations) provided a bit of a stir when he refused to initially acknowledge his participation. (He was listed as John Jay Smith in the credits.) Jackson gave voice to a mental patient named Leon who thought he was the King of Pop, but refused to sing for the role. Instead, Kipp Lennon sang the song “Happy Birthday Lisa,” which Jackson wrote for the episode. It was the last time the series allowed celebs to use pseudonyms.

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