Fox TV renews animated series 'The Simpsons' for 26th season

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - America's leading animated dysfunctional family "The Simpsons" will be continuing their antics for a 26th season, the Fox broadcast network said on Friday, cementing the show's status as the longest-running animated series in U.S. television history.

"The Simpsons," now in its 25th season, is a staple at Fox television, as its leading family - Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie - have become globally recognized figures of popular culture. The show is also the longest-running sitcom and primetime scripted series in U.S. history.

"For more than a quarter of a century, 'The Simpsons' has captured the hearts and minds of fans in a way that transcends ages, languages and cultures," Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment at Fox broadcasting, said in a statement.

"It's one of the greatest sitcoms of our time, and I'm looking forward to yet another landmark season."

In a conference call with reporters last month, Executive Producer Al Jean said one of the show's main characters will die in a forthcoming episode. The death is now scheduled for the 26th season.

"This is great; no end in sight, except for one character who will die next season," Jean said in response to the show's renewal.

"The Simpsons," created by Matt Groening, first aired on Fox in 1989 and the popularity of doughnut-loving Homer and his family helped the fledgling network become a major player in the TV industry. The show is broadcast in more than 100 countries and 50 languages, and has won 28 Primetime Emmy awards and been awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The 25th season premiered with "Homerland" on Sunday, a spoof of Showtime thriller "Homeland," drawing in 6.4 million viewers according to Fox. The October 6 episode is the annual Halloween-themed "Treehouse of Horror," with a special opening couch gag sequence directed by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro.

The series has attracted guest voice stars spanning the full spectrum of popular culture, from late actress Elizabeth Taylor, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, physicist Stephen Hawking and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Two years ago, the show's future came into jeopardy when the network was unable to reach a payment deal with its principal voice cast that includes Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), and Yeardley Smith (Lisa). Fox and the cast eventually came to an agreement.

Fox TV is a unit of 21st Century Fox Inc . (Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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