Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wikileaks' Julian Assange to be special guest on 500th episode of 'The Simpsons'

Fans of the Fox TV show "The Simpsons" are probably already aware that the February 19 episode marks the 500th of the series. Guess who's coming to "dinner?" It's Julian Assange, the embattled chief of Wikileaks, who joins numerous topical / popular / controversial celebrities who have been animated for the show.

The Simpsons debuted in 1989 on Fox. It has since become the longest running primetime, scripted television series. It is currently in its 23rd season.

Julian Assange's guest-starring role was "filmed" remotely. Assange recorded his lines via phone from Britain. According to NPR's "Marketwatch," producers were given a phone number to call, and little more information.

In the episode, titled "At Long Last Leave," Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie (and the family pets) leave home and move to an isolated area. There, they discover they are living next to Assange.

Al Jean, Simpsons executive producer, said that the show's is well aware that Julian Assange is "controversial," but they avoided any mention of his "legal situation" in the episode. The writers ensured that the appearance was satirical in nature.

There are other guests on the episode, as well. Jean said, "There are a couple of other cameos that are more familiar to fans of the show. And much less controversial."

In 2010, Wikileaks, in partnership with a number of major newspapers (Le Monde, El Pais, Der Spiegel, and The Guardian, which shared the information with The New York Times), published a huge cache of leaked diplomatic cables. Exposing the previously unknown views of American officials and their allies about a number of topics, it was perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back.

Just last week, the Kremlin-funded English language channel Russia Today revealed it had given Assange his own television talk show. On that show, dubbed "The World Tomorrow," Assange will interview newsworthy figures, the network stated.

Assange is currently under house arrest outside London. He is scheduled to appear before Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday to appeal his extradition to Sweden. He has been accused of sexual misconduct by two former WikiLeaks volunteers.

In February last year, a court ruled that Assange should be extradited to Sweden to answer those charges. He then lost an appeal. However, two high court judges granted him the right to appeal to the highest British court, which is what will take place in a two-day hearing on Feb. 1 and 2.

It is expected that even after the hearing, the court will not deliver a ruling for several weeks.

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