Former NASCAR driver Leilani Munter WILL be taking her "Blackfish" car to Talladega, TMZ has learned -- all thanks to an incredibly generous donation from "Simpsons" co-creator Sam Simon.
As we reported, Leilani had desperately been trying to raise money to pay for the $115,000 fee to enter the car for a big race at an ARCA event at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3rd. As of our last story, she had raised only $7,500.
But that all changed last week -- Leilani appeared on Simon's radio show to talk about her car and orca-related activism ... and Simon was so moved, Leilani tells us, he donated the balance of her entrance fee immediately after the show ... $107,500.
We're told Simon visited Taiji in February (the place where "The Cove" was shot) and has become an outspoken advocate for the humane treatment of orcas. Leilani tells us, she plans to win the race on behalf of orcas around the world suffering in captivity.
Sam -- who has terminal colon cancer -- has vowed to give away his fortune before he dies ... specifically toward animal rights and feeding the hungry.
As if giving the world "The Simpsons" wasn't enough.
Brian Griffin's Gone But ...
Sideshow Bob WILL Be Back
11/30/2013 12:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
It's always darkest before the dawn -- "Family Guy" might have taken away our beloved Brian Griffin ... but Kelsey Grammer tells TMZ, Sideshow Bob WILL be making a triumphant return to "The Simpsons."
KG was out in L.A. this week when we got to chatting about Brian's death ... and conspiracy theories about the dog's return ... and Kelsey says Sideshow Bob ALWAYS comes back. "They've already killed him 20 times. He comes back a lot."
So will he be coming back for sure ... Kelsey says yes ... BUT WHEN??? Watch the clip.
'Simpsons' Star Marcia Wallace
Breast Cancer DID Contribute to Death
11/22/2013 4:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
"Simpsons" star Marcia Wallace's family denied breast cancer had anything to do with the actress' death ... but according to her death certificate, the disease played a significant role.
TMZ obtained a copy of Wallace's death certificate ... which lists pneumonia, sepsis (inflammation due to infection), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as the primary causes of death.
The report also says breast cancer was a "significant condition" contributing to her death ... despite the fact Marcia's son initially downplayed reports mentioning cancer.
According to the doc ... Wallace's body was cremated just days after her death.
Mrs. Krabappel to Be Written Off Show
... But Not for A While
10/29/2013 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Mrs. Krabappel WILL be written off "The Simpsons" in the wake of the death of the actress who voiced the character ... but it's not going to happen for a while, TMZ has learned.
TMZ spoke with "Simpsons" E.P. Al Jean who tells us ... no one could possibly fill Marcia Wallace's shoes as the voice of Ned Flanders' 2nd wife -- so they're not even going to try.
Al says producers do plan to write Edna off the show -- but there's no rush, because the series is produced so far in advance, Marcia had a year's worth of episodes recorded when she passed away.
TMZ broke the story ... Edna is NOT the mystery character that producers had planned to kill off the show this coming season. Al wouldn't say how Edna will leave Springfield.
As for Marcia, we're told the legendary comedy actress will be laid to rest in the next few days in a private ceremony.
'Simpsons' Star Marcia Wallace
Dead at 70
10/26/2013 2:01 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
1:45 PT -- Marcia's son Mikey tells us the actress passed away due to pneumonia complications ... and that reports saying breast cancer played a role are completely false.
Marcia Wallace -- who voiced Edna Krabappel on "The Simpsons" -- died last night in Los Angeles ... TMZ has learned.
Marcia's caregiver tells us ... the actress passed away at home with her family by her side. We're told she had been sick for the past few months ... but the caregiver couldn't go into specifics.
Wallace has been on TV since the 70's -- and spent 3 decades on various game show panels like "Hollywood Squares", "The $25,000 Pyramid" and "Match Game" ... as well as receptionist Carol Kester on "The Bob Newhart Show."
The actress was also a huge activist for breast cancer ... after being diagnosed with the disease in 1985.
She was 70.
Edna's NOT the Mystery Death
10/26/2013 9:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
E.P. Al Jean tells us ... they never planned that Edna would be the character to bite it. In fact, he says they had been writing a storyline based on her newly-wedded life with Ned Flanders.
We're told Marcia had been unable to do "Simpsons" voice over work for the past few weeks due to her declining health ... but producers were still hoping for the best.
Al tells us the Edna character will more than likely be retired this season -- but it's too early to say how she'll go away.
Al adds, "Marcia was such a sweet and talented woman ... she will be missed."
As we previously reported -- Marcia died last night at her home in Los Angeles.
Apu from 'The Simpsons'
RUMORED TO DIE
... Says Jennifer Tilly
10/12/2013 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
We KNOW someone's gonna die on "The Simpsons" next season ... and we KNOW Jennifer Tilly is tight with co-creator Sam Simon ... so when we saw her in NY yesterday, it was the perfect opportunity to pry for some inside info.
Tilly wasn't exactly ready to sell out her poker buddy, but she did tell us that the person rumored to be getting the chop is everyone's favorite Kwik-E-mart employee Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
Apu is definitely a candidate ... according to Executive Producer Al Jean who teased, "the actor playing the character won an Emmy for playing that character."
Vegas is also taking odds on the death ... with Sideshow Bob being the favorite, followed by Penelope Owsley, Krusty and Grandpa Abe.
Passes Away at 94
5/7/2013 11:26 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Sad news in Springfield ... "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening's mourning the loss of his beloved 94-year-old mother Margaret ... as in Marge ... as in Marge Simpson.
In fact, Margaret's obituary has surfaced online ... and it mentions several members of the Groening family -- including Homer, Lisa, Maggie and Patty.
FYI -- Margaret's maiden name was Wiggum.
It's not new "news" that Matt named several of his characters after family members ... just interesting to see it in print.
As for Matt's mom ... she died peacefully in her sleep on April 22. Mmmmmmm peace.
Props to Reddit for finding this.
The Simpsons ... Are Wildcats?
4/30/2012 6:25 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Springfield is NOT in Oregon ... or Illinois ... or Delaware ... or Ohio, Nevada or Maine ... so says creator Matt Groening.
Matt was leaving Nobu in Malibu this weekend ... posing for photos and signing autographs ... when our photog asked the cartoon god to finally settle the Springfield debate once and for all.
For years, Simpsons writers have given clues about the true location of Bart's hometown ... but they've never given an official answer.
But last night, Groening FINALLY gave us the answer we were looking for. Maybe.
He might have been joking ...
Spain's Duchess of Alba
Is Marge Simpson's Sister?
12/28/2011 8:35 AM PST BY Johnny Lopez
Here is Spain's Doña María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba, 85, in Madrid the other day (left) -- and Marge Simpson's sister Selma Bouvier-Terwilliger-Hutz-McClure-Stu-Simpson-D'Amico on "The Simpsons" (right).
One is quite the character.
We're just sayin'.
Returning for Two More Seasons
10/8/2011 12:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Fans of "The Simpsons" rejoice -- the show will be back for two more seasons.
The show's future had been in doubt after Fox demanded the show's voice cast take a pay cut.
The network announced the show would be renewed for another two seasons, but no further details were released.
Breaks with Cast
In New 'Simpsons' Demand
10/7/2011 3:05 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Harry Shearer never told his fellow cast members he was planning on making a new demand to FOX ... and it has both surprised them and thrown a monkey wrench in the negotiations ... sources familiar with the situation tell TMZ.
As we already reported, FOX is asking the entire cast to take a 45% pay cut. Shearer publicly stated this morning he would take a 70% pay cut in return for some profit participation -- something he says FOX is unwilling to do.
But here's the problem -- we've learned ... up until now all 6 cast members have been negotiating as a group with FOX, and the group NEVER asked for what Shearer is asking for now.
We're also told Shearer's profit sharing offer might actually be economically worse for FOX, given how much money "The Simpsons" currently generates. So, chances are slim the network would accept since it's said the standoff is all about saving money.
One source familiar with the negotiations thinks it's still possible for the group to get back on track ... but, as it was put to us, "Harry is the wild card."
I'll Take a MASSIVE Paycut,
But I Want ...
10/7/2011 9:16 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Harry Shearer -- who voices Smithers, Mr. Burns and several other major characters on "The Simpsons" -- says he is willing to take an even BIGGER pay cut than FOX wants him to ... but he has a demand of his own.
Shearer and the rest of the cast have been asked to take a 45% reduction in salary in order for the show to continue. Shearer says he's willing to cut his salary a whopping 70% -- but he wants a percentage of the show's profits ... something he says the cast has been denied for years.
Shearer says his reps approached FOX with the idea ... but we're told there are "simply no circumstances under which the network would consider allowing me or any of the actors to share in the show’s success."
Ironically, Mr. Burns would probably have the same answer.
FOX has no comment.