Hank Azaria Invited to Meet with Hindu Org ... Over Lingering Apu Guilt

Hank Azaria feels awful about his years-long portrayal of Apu -- but there's still a way he can get right with the Indian community which he, and others, feel has been harmed by the character.

Shereen Bhalla -- a rep for the Hindu American Foundation -- tells TMZ ... Hank doesn't have to torment himself for his work on "The Simpsons," or at least he doesn't have to do it alone. Bhalla says she and the staff at HAF would love to have a sit-down with him.

She tells us coming to the table with them would help Hank do a lot of the learning he seems very open to at this point. Shereen says they can expose him to Indian people's lived experiences, and have a dialogue about his lingering guilt.

"I APOLOGIZE FOR MY PART"
Armchair Expert

It's clear from Hank's comments on Dax Shephard's podcast that he does, indeed, have a lot of remorse about Apu ... even going so far as to say he feels the need apologize to every Indian person.

If Hank's concerned about "cancel culture" ... HAF does not want to see that happen to the veteran actor. We're told the group doesn't feel Hank needs to be excommunicated, and believes he's genuinely sorry and willing to educate himself ... which HAF would love to help him do.

As for how to proceed, there are a few options. For one, HAF is offering Hank a third-party facilitated dialogue with Indians across the nation, on or off the record ... his choice. Also, HAF has a podcast called "That's So Hindu" and would be more than happy to have him as a guest.

BTW, we're aware not all Indian people are Hindu ... or even religious for that matter. However, Apu was portrayed as a devout Hindu on the show, so it's all kosher.

'Simpsons' Star Hank Azaria I Wanna Apologize to Every Indian ... For 'Slur' That Was Apu

"I APOLOGIZE FOR MY PART"
Armchair Expert

Hank Azaria -- who voiced Apu on 'The Simpsons' for years -- says his guilt after ditching the role is so great, he feels he has to say sorry to every Indian person he encounters.

The actor relayed this sentiment on the Armchair Expert podcast, telling hosts Dax Shepard and Monica Padman ... "Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And, sometimes I do."

Hank also said he learned about the impact of the character -- which many say is stereotypical and inherently racist -- after taking seminars and just talking to people on the ground, including kids he's met through his own son.

Hank described one interaction he had with an Indian teen, who was apparently in tears as he told the longtime 'Simpsons' star that Apu had had a devastating effect on him and his community at large ... pleading with Hank to deliver the message to Hollywood writers.

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He says he's a big advocate of actors of color voicing characters of the same race -- which is exactly why he stepped away from the gig back in 2017, following the backlash of 'The Problem with Apu.' It's interesting, Hank even referred to Apu as a de facto racial slur on the podcast.

Of course, not everyone is on the same page with Hank ... including series' creator, Matt Groening, who recently said he was proud of what they'd done with Apu as a character.

As for whether Apu will ever return to the show -- he hasn't had his own episode or storyline since all this drama kicked off -- Groening says they're toying around with ideas to bring him back, but haven't committed to anything just yet. It's unclear who would voice him.

'Simpsons' Creator Matt Groening Hindu Org Pushes Back ... Apu Marginalizes Us & Kids Get Bullied!!!

"The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening needs to do something about Apu, because the character is the reason many Hindu kids get bullied ... at least according to a Hindu-American org.

Matt's getting pushback from the Hindu American Foundation for his recent comments on Apu -- he told USA Today he's proud of the character, despite HAF and many others claiming Apu is a walking stereotype.

Shereen Bhalla, spokesperson for HAF, tells TMZ ... Apu has been the predominant face in pop culture for the 3 million Hindus living in America, and the character makes the community feel marginalized.

Bhalla also says Apu's bad for kids growing up Hindu, because they may not feel proud of their identity due to Apu being used as a punchline, and she adds ... the stereotypes of him on "The Simpsons" lead to bullying in schools and online.

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HAF, the nation's largest advocacy and education organization for Hindu Americans, says there are a few changes Matt could make to address the problem ... like taking longtime Apu voice actor, Hank Azaria's advice to hire an Indian actor to play Apu.

DECEMBER 2017
HANK CAN STAY BUT ...
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The org also tells us it's disappointing to see concerns about Apu not being taken seriously, and they want Matt to change Apu's character -- as comedian Hari Kondabolu once suggested to us -- by adding some Hindus to the show's writing staff.

'Simpsons' Creator Matt Groening I'm Proud of What We did with Apu

The creator of "The Simpsons" appears to be suggesting that the blowback over having a white actor voice Apu for all these years really isn't all that big a deal ... in his eyes.

Animator Matt Groening did an interview with USA Today in honor of the upcoming 700th episode, and he was asked about the controversy -- namely, not having an Indian actor voice the Indian character ... not to mention claims Apu was portrayed as a walking stereotype.

Groening had some interesting answers ... for starters, he says he embraces bringing on new voice actors in the name of diversity -- the more the merrier, he explains. However, you can tell Matt's not nearly as up in arms as some have been about Apu's handling.

He was asked if he would change the nature of Apu's character and/or stories in light of the criticism that he lacks depth, and MG says this ... "I think the Apu stories are fantastic, and he's one of the most nuanced characters on a silly two-dimensional cartoon show. So, yeah, I'm proud of Apu."

He also adds this knowing he might get blowback, "I'm trying not to open up another chasm of criticism, but it doesn't matter what I say. I'll get it anyway." Matt goes on to say that the idea of having white actors voice non-white characters -- which is what 'Simpsons' opted to do in the end -- was not his idea, but that he's "fine with it."

Matt also says that the original intention was not to have some actors voice some characters -- they were just trying to use everyone's talent to the max, but he says he gets it. As to whether 'Simpsons' brass shoulda embraced this change years ago, he says ... "Yeah. And I hear they want to take the guns away from Yosemite Sam. He’s a little hot-headed."

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Quite telling ... especially since the longtime voice actor for Apu, Hank Azaria, seemed way more empathetic to the diversity concerns than Matt is here. Different strokes, we suppose 🤷🏽‍♂️

'Simpsons' Star Harry Shearer If Trump Hate Tweets My Album ... That'd Be The Tops!!!

TWEET ME PRES, PLEASE!
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Harry Shearer is definitely trying to poke the bear that is Donald Trump with a hilarious spoof album that's got the President singing show tunes ... and kissing Jared Kushner's butt.

The legendary voice actor and comedian -- who's played countless characters on "The Simpsons" -- came on "TMZ Live" to talk about his new album, "The Many Moods of Donald Trump," which he's been teasing with new single drops throughout the summer.

His first one was a banger -- it's called "Son in Law" ... and it's all about singing the virtues Jared. It also features Harry playing DT (with some incredible motion-capture animation tech) as he goes through a show-stopping number in the Oval Office. It's an awesome music video.

Now, as for whether this one was aimed at Donnie or Jared, Harry tells us they can split his mockery right down the middle. And, as far as praise, HS says the ultimate compliment would be if 45 himself hate tweets about 'TMMDT.' That'd be like hitting #1 on the charts!

We then pivoted to a much more serious topic -- the November election, which could see Trump in power for another four years -- well, Harry has opinions.

Marge Simpson Biting Clapback at Trump Advisor ... She's a Little 'Pissed Off!!!'

SHUT UP, JENNA
The Simpsons

Marge Simpson's known for her patient and loving demeanor, but it seems she has less patience for President Trump's advisor, who used her to jab at Sen. Kamala Harris ... 'cause she's firing back, politically.

TV's beloved animated housewife responded to Jenna Ellis' dig at Kamala ... claiming she sounded like Marge. Well, the 'Simpson' matriarch admits she doesn't usually get political, but she is now.

Marge says Lisa told her Ellis didn't mean her comment as a compliment, and -- as an ordinary suburban housewife -- she's starting to get fed up and feels disrespected. The "suburban housewife" comment is telling.

Marge is referring to President Trump's claim that Joe Biden's selection of Kamala will piss off suburban housewives because he claims it will lead to low-income housing in suburbs.

Point is ... Trump's terrified of losing that demographic, and Marge knows it.

It's the kind of witty reply expected from "The Simpsons," and we gotta say ... we haven't seen Marge this pissed since she had to deal with Becky.

'The Simpsons' Mute Michael Jackson ... Classic Episode Pulled

Michael Jackson's guest spot on "The Simpsons" is getting yanked out of circulation ... a decision made by the show's honchos in the wake of "Leaving Neverland."

'Simpsons' executive producer James L. Brooks says he made the call after watching the 2-part HBO documentary about Jackson's alleged molestation of Wade Robson and James Safechuck.

The 1991 episode features Jackson voicing the character, Leon Kompowsky.

Creator Matt Groening and producer Al Jean were in agreement with Brooks to pull it, with Brooks telling the Wall Street Journal ... "There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesn’t allow them to remain."

Jackson's guest role came on the first episode of Season 3, "Stark Raving Dad," but was uncredited for contractual reasons and unconfirmed until years later. In the ep., Homer goes to a mental institution and shares a room with Leon ... who claims to be the King of Pop.

It features the song, "Happy Birthday Lisa," which Jackson wrote for the show.

'Simpsons' brass already started the process of removing the episode from their syndication circulation, but it's gonna take a while to completely scrub it from DVD and streaming services.

Matt Groening I'm Ready for My Fans ... Not Quite Ready for Real-Life Homer

MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY
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Matt Groening has a new Netflix show out called "Disenchantment" ... but he's got an enchanting way of appeasing autograph seekers -- he comes prepared.

We got "The Simpsons" creator at LAX Friday, and he showed up with a bag full of signed cartoon drawings to give away ... which he calls his new strategy for pleasing his fans.

Our cameraman even got an original Elfo! (He's one of the stars of Groening's new show.)

Then our guy hit Matt with some jarring news -- a 3D artist on Twitter posted his imagining of what a real-life Homer Simpson would look like ... and he basically replied with an "Ay, Caramba!"

Yeah, it's pretty scary ... but Groening seemed to quickly come around on making 3D Homer a star.

Zachery Ty Bryan Trump & Kanye Inspire Me ... Here's $25k for 'Apu' Contest!!!

LET'S UNITE... UNDER TRUMP

The actor who played Tim Allen's eldest on "Home Improvement" wants to end the stereotype associated with "The Simpsons" character Apu, and he's donating a lot of money to make it happen.

Zachery Ty Bryan gave $25k to the Apu Screenwriting Contest, which is being spearheaded by producer Adi Shankar. Shankar's contest is crowdsourcing short scripts for Apu that do NOT involve Indian stereotypes.

The contest got a big up from Kanye West, who shared Shankar's contest announcement on social media, and Zach, who just worked with Adi on a film, has more in common with Kanye than just saving Apu. He's also a massive Trump fan, and says it's time for all Americans to get behind 45.

BTW, Adi will submit the winning script to 'Simpsons' writers in hopes it will be folded into an episode.

Ted Cruz on GOP Here's How We're 'The Simpsons'

HOMER 2020
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Ted Cruz said Democrats were the party of Lisa Simpson, and that the GOP was the party of Homer, Bart, Maggie and Marge ... now he's explaining how so.

We got the TX senator Monday at Reagan National Airport in D.C. and asked him to elaborate on the comment he made last week at CPAC, which drew ridicule left and right.

Cruz offers a VERY thorough explanation into why each character -- sans Lisa -- represents Republican values and mirrors the traditional American family. Our question ... he reachin'?

SORRY, TRY AGAIN
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One of the voice actors on the cartoon show clearly thinks so. We got Harry Shearer over the weekend, and he thought Cruz was way out of his element tying conservatism to Springfield.

D'ohn't go there, Ted.

'The Simpsons' Here's How to Fix Apu Problems ... Says Hari Kondabolu

DECEMBER 2017
HANK CAN STAY BUT ...
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Hank Azaria's stereotypical Indian voice as 'Simpsons' character Apu isn't the show's biggest problem -- it's getting Apu some power ... according to the comedian who's challenging producers to make changes.

Hari Kondabolu's documentary, "The Problem with Apu" prompted Hank to tell us he's sorry if he offended anyone with his portrayal of Apu. He also hinted there's a chance Apu doesn't come back -- but Hari says there's a better solution.

'Simpsons' producers, listen up -- we think Hari just made your jobs a little easier.

He might need a writing credit though, if you use this idea. Doh!!

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Hank Azaria 'Simpsons' Brass Talking ... What Do We Do About Apu?

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Hank Azaria is breaking huge 'Simpsons' news -- Apu, one of the characters he voices, could be going away on the heels of a documentary accusing the hit show of racism.

We got Azaria at LAX and asked him about "The Problem with Apu." Up until now Hank hasn't reacted, but he told us he and producers are taking the criticism seriously.

If you haven't seen it, comedian Hari Kondabolu takes a hard look at Apu -- the Indian owner of the Kwik-E-Mart -- and says the character exploits stereotypes of Indian immigrants. Hank offered a heartfelt apology to anyone who's been offended.

So, will Apu vanish from Springfield? Based on what Hank told us ... seems like a possibility to us. Watch and get your own read.

'The Simpsons' Spoofs Trump's First 100 Days ... Kill Spicer, Put Ivanka On SCOTUS

"The Simpsons" envision Ivanka Trump as a Supreme Court Justice, and Sean Spicer killing himself ... at least in the show's version of Donald Trump's first 100 days in office.

The spoof airs on Sunday's episode, and even the staunchest Trump haters would have to say it's super dark -- Spicer hanging himself in the White House Press Room, Ruth Bader Ginsburg getting 86'd for Ivanka, while hawking robes and the prez himself weeping over ... well, you gotta watch.

Of course, Trump's made no secret of his love for FOX News. Gotta wonder if he'll be watching the mother ship Sunday night.

Bart Simpson Nancy Cartwright Shocks Student with 'Impression'

NICE TO MEET YA!
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Nancy Cartwright is awesome ... slowly and slyly revealing to a kid on a mission he's lookin' at the voice of Bart Simpson.

Nancy was at a shopping mall in Sherman Oaks, CA when she happened upon an 8th grader who was hawking sweets.

You gotta see his reaction when the light bulb goes on.

'Simpsons' Star Don't Blame Us for Trump's Success

SIMPSONS DID IT
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Donald Trump may be flying high after picking up 3 more states, but he better hope a certain donut-loving, follicly-challenged guy doesn't enter the race ... according to a 'Simpsons' star.

Harry Shearer -- the voice of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Smithers, Principal Skinner and many more -- was at LAX when we brought up the now infamous episode that predicted a Trump presidency ... 16 seasons ago!

Shearer explained why it worked, but only as a goof, way back then. As for whether it's still funny -- Harry explained why he'd vote Homer before Trump.

Sam Simon 'Simpsons' Emmys Auction Blocked ... By the Emmys!

The estate of 'Simpsons' co-creator Sam Simon wants to unload 2 handfuls worth of his Emmys, but the people at the Emmys ain't havin' it ... TMZ has learned.

Simon passed away last year and his foundation listed 10 Emmys -- which he won for "The Simpsons" and "The Tracey Ullman Show" -- through the Abell Auction Company.

They could go for $2,500 - $6,000 each ... however, the Academy of Television says it's the rightful owner of those awards. A rep for the Academy tells us a winner's heirs or successors must "return the statuette to the Academy, and we hold it in storage in memory of the recipient.” Those are the rules.

The Academy broke that news to Simon's estate, and as of Monday morning ... the Emmys have been pulled off the block.

The auction's still going down February 21 and will include pieces from Sam's art collection, like Picasso lithographs and a mini "Thinker" -- but your shot at a 'Simpsons' Emmy is officially dead.

Old news is old news!
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