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A fan-favorite episode of "The Simpsons" that first aired almost 28 years ago is being pulled from rerun rotation — and more — due to the controversial guest star who played an important part in it.
The season three premiere episode, titled "Stark Raving Dad," featured the voice of Michael Jackson, but in the wake of HBO's "Leaving Neverland" documentary, the late entertainment icon has become a controversial figure, once again associated with disturbing allegations of sexual abuse.
"It feels clearly the only choice to make," "Simpsons" executive producer James L. Brooks told the Wall Street Journal. "The guys I work with — where we spend our lives arguing over jokes — were of one mind on this."
The other "guys" he's referring to include show creator Matt Groening and fellow EP Al Jean.
In "Stark Raving Dad," Jackson voiced Leon Kompowsky, a character who resided in a mental institution alongside Homer Simpson and who, despite being 320 pounds, white and bald, claimed to be the King of Pop himself.
While Jackson was credited only as "John Jay Smith" for his work, his involvement was easily guessed and considered an open secret for years before it was publicly confirmed.
Fans of the singer and of the long-running series loved the episode and the catchy tune (sung by a sound-alike artist for contractual reasons) that it spawned. And Brooks is among those who consider it one of the greatest episodes of "The Simpsons."
But that doesn't change his plans or his position.
"This was a treasured episode," he told the publication. "There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one." However, he added that the "monstrous behavior" detailed in the documentary no longer allows those happy memories to remain.
"I’m against book burning of any kind," Brooks noted. "But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter."
That chapter isn't simply being removed from syndication. Though it will take time, Brooks said a "process has started" to remove the episode from streaming services and Blu-ray/DVD box sets, as well.