The Simpsons has visited just about every nook and cranny of pop culture in its near-30 years, though a long-abandoned episode concept saw the late Prince putting in a particularly meta appearance. Now, Simpsons boss Al Jean shares the tribute episode that might have been, as well what caused the revered artist to decline.

Among the more well-documented Simpsons episodes lies Season 3 outing “Stark Raving Dad,” in which Homer encounters mental patient Leon Kompowsky, who believed himself (and was even partially voiced by) Michael Jackson. Now, in the wake of Prince’s passing last week, Al Jean reveals that Kompowsky was scripted to return in Season 4 or 5, this time believing himself Prince.

As the story goes, Prince rejected a draft written by Simpsons writers, who in turn rejected a revised draft from one of Prince’s writers, scuttling the idea altogether. A number of suggestions for Prince’s rejection were theorized, including potshots at his work or “playing second fiddle to [Michael Jackson],” though Jean shared a few pages of the unreleased script:

According to Jean, the idea for the original script arose from executive producer James L. Brooks, with its first draft written by freelancers Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk, with then staff writer-producer Conan O’Brien doing rewrites.

It’s at least of interest that The Simpsons has scarcely revisited the Kompowsky character since, but would a Prince appearance have proven so classic as “Stark Raving Dad”?


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