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Date: Unknown
Source:  Hollywood Online

"Godzilla" Star Hank Azaria Defends His Deal On "The Simpsons"   

Among the stars of "Godzilla," Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer had an advantage over the rest of the cast. As the voices of about half the town of Springfield on the brilliant and beloved animated TV series, "The Simpsons," Azaria and Shearer had experience performing opposite imaginary characters. When the star of your movie is a giant special effects generated lizard, that comes in handy.

"When we record animation, we record the voice first and then they animate to your vocal performance," explains Azaria. "Very often you're just there alone, imagining other people's performances. So you do get used to imagining everything."

The verdict is now being delivered as to just how successful "Godzilla" will be. But the verdict came in long ago on "The Simpsons." It is simply one of the finest and funniest series in the history of television. Azaria credits the writing.

"The first year or two, Jim Brooks, Sam Simon and Matt Groening really put their heads together and took such care in setting the world of that show," offers Azaria. "There are specific rules that make it incredible. The right tone of satire, the right tone of reality. When to break reality into cartoonland, and when to not. The relationships of all the characters. As much thought as Brooks put into `As Good As It Gets' or `Broadcast News,' he put into `The Simpsons' the first two years. And it shows."

Azaria is also proud of his contribution. He is a bit disappointed that the voice over talents have received more publicity in recent weeks for their stormy contract negotiations than for the wonderful work they have done over the past nine years.

"No one expected the show to go that long, so no contracts were in place," he explains. "It was just a fairly standard negotiation, but it got so public, I guess because no one's ever been paid that much for doing animated voices. But everything about this show is unique. No show has ever made this amount of money, in merchandising, in syndication. We don't see any of that. It's made billions and we don't see a red cent of it. So somewhere between getting paid $25,000 to do an entire year of animation and getting a piece of all those profits is appropriate. And believe me, it's much closer to the $25,000. But I think everyone's happy now."

"The Simpsons" will definitely return next season and will probably do at least two more years after that, according to Azaria, who has been called "the Mel Blanc of his generation."

"I called myself that, so I don't think it counts," he laughs.