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When I read last week on HuffingtonPost.com that Nancy Cartwright, a.k.a. the voice of Bart Simpson and devoted Scientologist, was making robocalls on behalf of a church event in the voice of everyone’s favorite 10 year-old troublemaker, I was curious to see what response Twentieth Century Fox* would have.
Back in the early days of the Internet the company aggressively pursued fan sites that used images, videos, and audio clips, and I was curious to see how they would be dealing with one of their own using the beloved copyrighted character to promote an outside organization’s event.
Audio of the call, which was posted on YouTube and featured on PerezHilton.com, TMZ.com, and many other celeb sites, was quickly pulled and replaced with a “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Twentieth Century Fox” message. Although the recording can still be found on other websites.
Cartwright, who is currently auditing on OT VII, invites fellow Scientologists to the Flag World Tour event at the Hollywood and Highland Center, sprinkling the message with Bartisms and punctuating the message with his famous laugh. Listening to the call is an odd experience as Cartwright’s natural voice is so close to that of the Bart character’s that it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other begins. It’s as if Mel Gibson had left you a voice mail promoting traditionalist Catholicism in the voice of Rocky from “Chicken Run.” Just not right.


Many media outlets are reporting that Fox’s legal department is quietly looking into the matter, but executive producer Al Jean responded to the matter saying, “This is not authorized by us. The Simpsons does not, and never has, endorsed any religion, philosophy or system of beliefs any more profound than Butterfinger bars.”
In fact, “The Simpsons” often satirizes and points out foibles of organized religion, skewering all belief systems from Christianity to charismatic cults such as the …ehem … Movementarians in “The Joy of Sect” episode.
There has been quite a bit of uproar about the robocall and its implication that Bart Simpson endorses Scientology; publicity the controversial church could surely do without. Which leads me to wonder why a church, which itself is litigiously formidable, would allow such a robocall. Did the people who put the promotion together really think that in this day and age of iPhones and YouTube only non-Scientologists would hear the message?
Apparently so.
“We called the phone number for the event that Nancy gives out,” reports TMZ.com, “and the person who answered was surprised a non-Scientologist got the message — thanks, YouTube.”
Then again, in Hollywood, any publicity can be good publicity.
* Fox Entertainment Group is Beliefnet’s parent company.
The Simpsons at LocateTV.com

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