When You Dish Upon a Star
"When You Dish Upon a Star" is the fifth episode of The Simpsons' tenth season, which was originally broadcast on the Fox Network on November 8, 1998. When the family spend the day at Lake Springfield, Homer meets Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger (voicing themselves), who are hiding from the media in their secluded summer home. Homer starts to work for them, developing a good friendship, but he soon reveals their secrets to the public, damaging his new friendship with them. It was the last Simpsons episode written by Richard Appel, and was directed by Pete Michels.
Bart and Lisa persuade their parents to spend the day at Lake Springfield. While there, Homer attempts parasailing and is involved in an accident when he tells Marge to send him up far too high; as a result, his rope detaches. He crashes through a glass roof and into the bedroom of Alec Baldwin (whom Homer at first mistakes for Billy Baldwin) and Kim Basinger's secluded summer home. The couple and Homer become acquainted. Homer convinces the couple to allow him to be their assistant, while keeping it secret that the celebrity couple are in Springfield. Homer, at first, works well with the couple, and they all become good friends. Homer also befriends Ron Howard when he visits the couple, and soon attempts to pitch a screenplay about a "killer robot driving instructor that travels back in time for some reason," as well as a talking pie, the robot's best friend. Alec rejects the screenplay, not just for the bizarre concept, but because the script is only 17 pages long and mostly consists of drawings of the time machine.
However, Homer soon finds it difficult to keep such a big secret hidden, and ends up telling Lenny, Carl and Moe about the celebrities. This releases the information that Baldwin and Basinger are in Springfield, and the couple's house is discovered by Springfield citizens and the media. Baldwin and Basinger are furious at Homer for breaking their trust, and immediately end their friendship with him and kick him out of their house, and Homer sadly walks to the gate while being pelted with rocks by the citizens. Bitter about losing his celebrity friends and once again feeling like a nobody, Homer begins a mobile museum, entitled "Museum of Hollywood Jerks", which displays the couple's personal belongings that were left behind in Homers car during his time as their assistant, including their underwear and Alec Baldwin's medical alert bracelet. Basinger, Baldwin and Howard soon begin to miss Homer, having enjoyed his company, and decide to apologize to him, only to discover the museum. A high-speed chase quickly ensues between Homer, in his mobile museum, and the celebrities in their Hummer. Homer agrees to stop after Ron Howard is injured during the chase. Homer is ordered by a court of law to remain 500 miles away from any celebrity, both living or dead. One month later, Ron Howard pitches Homer's screenplay from earlier to Brian Grazer of 20th Century Fox, and over a still of Howard rejoicing over securing the deal, a snippet of the theme song of Happy Days is played.
During the opening sequence, Bart originally wrote "butt.com" on the chalkboard, however, it was modified to butt.butt, due to butt.com being a real website. The storyline of famous celebrities moving to Springfield was pitched by Mike Scully; Scully originally pitched Bruce Springsteen as the celebrity to move to town, however, Springsteen turned down the opportunity to appear. Richard Appel then offered the guest appearance opportunity to Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, but they too turned down the offer. Appel then offered Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger the opportunity to provide their voices, and they agreed to guest star in the episode. The episode was originally intended to be directed by Mike B. Anderson, but it was held over from season 9 and Pete Michels directed it.
In December 2008, in an interview, Ron Howard commented that guest voicing himself "was an honour. Probably, from my kids' perspective, my coolest turn." Howard once again guest starred on The Simpsons as himself in the season eleven episode "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder" (1999). Howard was set to appear in "Children of a Lesser Clod" (2001), but dropped out for unknown reasons.
The author of the 2003 book Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon… and Beyond, Beverly Gray, noted that by playing himself in these episodes, "Howard showed once again that he could laugh at his own public persona. His appearances on The Simpsons also suggest how much he remains an American icon, long after the end of his acting career. It's rare indeed for a director or producer to be as instantly recognizable as most Hollywood stars."
The title episode is a reference to the 1940 film Pinocchio (film), which features the song When You Wish Upon a Star. At the beginning of the episode, Homer has a dream that is a spoof of Hanna-Barbera's series The Yogi Bear Show (1961), with Homer as Yogi Bear, Bart as Boo Boo and Ned as Ranger Smith. The time machine drawing in Homer's screenplay contains a Flux capacitor, the device from the film Back to the Future (1985). The drinks wobbling as the townspeople approach Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin's house is a reference to the film Jurassic Park (1993). Posters for 9½ Weeks (1986) and L.A. Confidential (1997), both starring Basinger, are seen in Homer's museum. At the end of the episode, Brian Grazer has a poster of the movie Titanic (1997) in his office.
"When You Dish Upon a Star" finished 32nd in the weekly ratings for the week of November 2–8, 1998 with a Nielsen rating of 9.2. In his review of The Simpsons' tenth season, James Plath of Dvdtown.com noted "When You Dish upon a Star" was written to be "one of the funnier episodes". In a Simpsons flashback review, Robert Canning of IGN reviewed the episode positively, commenting "I'm not saying this episode is one of the greatest the series has every produced, but it is very, very funny, and it features one of my all-time favorite guest performances." The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, wrote in a negative review: "Despite three very high-profile guest actors, this episode is really rather dull and uninspired. The only real moment of interest is the car chase at the end, and Kim Basinger's delightfully self-deprecating quips about her constant adoration of her Oscars, Alec Baldwin apparently not having one himself." IGN rated Ron Howard as the twelfth greatest guest appearance on The Simpsons. Total Film's Nathan Ditum ranked Baldwin and Basinger's performances as the second best guest appearances in the show's history.
- Bates, James W.; Gimple, Scott M.; McCann, Jesse L., Richmond, Ray; Seghers, Christine, ed. (2010). Simpsons World The Ultimate Episode Guide: Seasons 1–20 (1st ed.). Harper Collins Publishers. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-00-738815-8.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian. "When You Dish Upon a Star". Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- "When You Dish Upon a Star". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- Hauge, Ron (2007). The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season Commentary for the Episode "When You Dish Upon a Star" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Appel, Richard (2007). The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season Commentary for the Episode "When You Dish Upon a Star" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Michels, Pete (2007). The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season Commentary for the Episode "When You Dish Upon a Star" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Breznican, Anthony (2008-12-09). "Howard's 'journey' from Opie to filmmaker hits 50 years". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-12-09.
- Gray, Beverly (2003). Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon… and Beyond. Thomas Nelson Inc. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-55853-970-9.
- "Children of a Lesser Clod". simpsonsarchive.com. 13 May 2001.
- The Associated Press (1999-11-12). "The X-Files Has Seen Better Days". Sun-Sentinel Company. p. 4E.
- Plath, James (August 17, 2007). "Simpsons, The: The Complete 10th Season [Special Edition]". Dvdtown.com. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- Canning, Robert (June 30, 2008). "The Simpsons Flashback: "When You Dish Upon a Star" Review". IGN. Retrieved 2008-08-24. Cite error: Invalid
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- Ditum, Nathan (March 29, 2009). "The 20 Best Simpsons Movie-Star Guest Spots". Total Film. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
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