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Template:Infobox Simpsons episode "Stark Raving Dad" is the first episode of the third season of American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on September 19, 1991. In the episode, main character Homer Simpson is mistaken for a "free thinking anarchist" and sent to a mental institution, where he shares a room with a large white man named Leon Kompowsky who pretends to be Michael Jackson. Meanwhile, because he normally forgets her birthday, Bart promises his sister Lisa that he will get her the best present ever.

Al Jean and Mike Reiss wrote the episode while Rich Moore served as director. Michael Jackson guest starred in the episode as the speaking voice of Leon Kompowsky. For contractual reasons, he was credited as John Jay Smith in the closing credits, and his role in the episode was not officially confirmed until later. Jackson was a fan of the show and called creator Matt Groening one night offering to do a guest spot. Jackson pitched several story ideas for the episode and wrote the song "Happy Birthday Lisa" that is featured in the plot. He also stipulated that he would provide Kompowsky's speaking voice, but his singing voice would be performed by a sound-alike (Kipp Lennon) because he wanted to play a joke on his brothers. The episode contains references to many aspects of Jackson's career, with Kompowsky singing portions of the songs "Billie Jean" and "Ben".

"Stark Raving Dad" received generally positive reviews from critics, particularly for the writing and Jackson's performance. A sequel to the episode was later written, in which Kompowsky was voiced by Prince rather than Jackson, but it was never produced. During the January 30, 1992 rerun of the episode, a short alternate opening aired before the credits; the opening was in response to a speech made by the President of the United States George H. W. Bush three days earlier, in which he said Americans needed to be "a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons".


Lisa wakes her brother Bart up to remind him that her birthday is nearing, and that he neglects or forgets it every year. Bart promises to get her a present this year. Meanwhile, their father Homer discovers that all of his white shirts have turned pink because Bart put his red hat in with the laundry. Homer has no choice but to wear a pink shirt to work and as a result, his co-workers poke fun at him. His boss, Mr. Burns, suspects him of being a "free thinking anarchist". Homer is sent home with a 20-question psychiatric quiz that he has to fill in so that Dr. Marvin Monroe can assess his sanity. Homer is too lazy to finish the quiz on his own and lets Bart fill it in. When Dr. Monroe sees the results, he determines that Homer is crazy. Homer is sent to a mental institution, where he shares a cell with a large white man who pretends to be and acts like Michael Jackson. Not knowing who Jackson is, Homer believes him.

Homer's wife Marge comes to the institution and is able to convince his doctors that he is not insane. Homer bids farewell to Michael, who reveals that he is only in the mental institution voluntarily. Homer therefore decides to let him stay in his home. He calls and tells Bart that he is bringing Michael to stay for a few days. Against Homer's wishes, Bart tells his friend Milhouse and soon all of Springfield turns up outside of the Simpson family's home to see Michael. The level of excitement is deflated when Homer introduces Michael and they realize he is an impostor. The townspeople become angry at Bart and leave. At the same time, Lisa comes out of the house and is upset with Bart because he has yet again failed to acknowledge her birthday, because of his excitement over Michael Jackson's arrival.

After hearing Lisa writing an angry letter to Bart, the faux Michael convinces Bart to let him help. Together they write and perform a song for Lisa's birthday called "Happy Birthday Lisa". Lisa is thrilled and hugs her brother, saying that he has given her the best present ever. Seconds later, Michael reveals that his real name is Leon Kompowsky, and he is a bricklayer from Paterson, New Jersey. He explains that he had been very angry for most of his life, but found some peace in pretending to be Jackson because talking in Jackson's voice made him and everyone around him happy. Kompowsky bids farewell to the Simpsons and walks off down the road, singing Lisa's birthday song to himself.


"Stark Raving Dad" was written specifically for Michael Jackson, a fan of the show, who had called Groening one night and offered to do a guest spot.<ref name="Groening">Groening, Matt. (2003). Commentary for "Stark Raving Dad", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.</ref><ref name="fan">Template:Cite news</ref> The offer was accepted and a script was written by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, based on an idea pitched by James L. Brooks.<ref name="Reiss"/> Creator Matt Groening and co-executive producer Sam Simon also contributed significantly to the writing of the episode.<ref name="Reiss"/> In an early version of the script, Homer decided to take his alcoholic friend Barney Gumble in for rehab, but while there Homer began acting crazily so the doctors assumed he was the one to be committed.<ref name="Groening"/> It was later changed to Homer being hospitalized for wearing a pink shirt, an idea pitched by Brooks.<ref name="Jean"/> Michael Jackson pitched several story ideas for the episode, such as Bart telling everyone in town that Michael Jackson was coming to his house. He also requested that there be a scene in which he and Bart wrote a song together<ref name="Reiss"/> and asked that a joke about Prince be changed to one about Elvis Presley.<ref name="Jean">Jean, Al. (2003). Commentary for "Stark Raving Dad", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.</ref> Template:Multiple image According to Jean, Jackson would not commit to the episode until after a read-through of the script was done.<ref name="VanSun">Template:Cite web</ref> The read was held at Jackson's manager Sandy Gallin's house, and Dan Castellaneta (who provides the voice for Homer) was 30 minutes late. Jean recalls that "no one said a word, we just sat there waiting".<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> Following the read, Jackson stipulated his conditions: he would record his speaking parts but not receive credit, and his singing voice would be performed by a sound-alike.<ref name="VanSun"/><ref name="Brooks"/> Leon Kompowsky's singing parts were performed by Kipp Lennon,<ref name="Reiss"/> because Jackson wanted to play a joke on his brothers and fool them into thinking the impersonator was him.<ref name="Brooks"/> Lennon recorded his lines at the same time as Jackson, who found the impersonations humorous.<ref name="Reiss"/> Jackson showed up for the recording session alone and did not use the special trailer that was set up for him.<ref name="Reiss"/> According to Jean, Jackson did record versions of the singing parts, and while there have been rumors that those parts were the ones used in the final episode, The Simpsons music editor Chris Ledesma has stated the Lennon versions were used.<ref name="Jean"/> Kompowsky's normal speaking voice, which is heard at the end of the episode, was recorded by cast member Hank Azaria.<ref name="Castellaneta">Castellaneta, Dan. (2003). Commentary for "Stark Raving Dad", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.</ref> The episode originally was supposed to end with Kompowsky singing a portion of "Man in the Mirror" in his Michael Jackson voice as he walked down the road, but it was changed to him singing the beginning of "Happy Birthday Lisa."<ref name="Castellaneta"/>

"Stark Raving Dad" was the final episode in the season two production run, but aired as the premiere of season three, over a year after it was completed.<ref name="Reiss"/> Michael Jackson was credited with pseudonym John Jay Smith in the closing credits.<ref name="fan"/> At the time, the producers of the show were legally prevented from confirming that Jackson guest starred, although many media sources assumed it was really him.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref><ref>Template:Cite news</ref><ref>Template:Cite news</ref><ref>Template:Cite news</ref> Similarly, in season two, actor Dustin Hoffman had guest starred in the episode "Lisa's Substitute" under the name "Sam Etic". After "Stark Raving Dad", the producers decided that if a celebrity wished to guest star on the show, they had to be willing to be credited under their real name.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref>

Jackson was a fan of Bart,<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> and in addition to doing a guest spot on the show, he wanted to give Bart a number one single. He therefore co-wrote the song "Do the Bartman", which was released as a single around the same time that the episode was produced. Jackson could not take credit for his work on the song due to contractual reasons.<ref name="Brooks">Brooks, James L. (2003). Commentary for "Stark Raving Dad", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.</ref> Jackson also wrote the song "Happy Birthday Lisa", which was later included in the album Songs in the Key of Springfield.<ref name="Jean"/> A version of the song was reportedly scheduled to be included on a bonus disk in the October 2001 special edition of Jackson's 1991 album Dangerous. However, the bonus disk was eventually dropped from the release.<ref>Template:Harvnb</ref>

Jackson died on June 25, 2009, and the Fox network re-aired the episode on July 5 as a tribute to him.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The producers had intended to air the episode on June 28, 2009, three days after Jackson's death, but could not resolve issues with syndication rights in time. The music video for "Do the Bartman" was aired on that date instead.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The producers screened the episode first, and the only change made, which was unrelated to Jackson, was the blurring of a phone number.<ref name="VanSun"/>

Alternate opening

File:George H. W. Bush, President of the United States, 1989 official portrait.jpg
A rerun of "Stark Raving Dad" featured a response to a comment made by George H. W. Bush.

The January 30, 1992 rerun of the episode featured a brief alternate opening, which was written in response to a comment made by the President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, three days earlier. The show had previously had a "feud" with Barbara Bush when, in the October 1, 1990 edition of People, she called The Simpsons "the dumbest thing [she] had ever seen".<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> The writers decided to respond by privately sending a polite letter to Bush in which they posed as Marge Simpson. Bush immediately sent a reply in which she apologized. Later, on January 27, 1992, George H. W. Bush made a speech during his re-election campaign which included the statement "we are going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family, to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons."<ref name="Brooks2">Brooks, James L. (2004). "Bush vs. Simpsons", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.</ref>

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