"The Simpsons" is already the longest-running prime-time animated series ever, and it will soon become the longest-running scripted show in the history of prime-time television.
FOX announced Thursday (Feb. 26) that it's picking up two more seasons of the show, which will bring it close to the 500-episode mark (493, by the network's count) by the end of the 2010-11 season. That will make 22 seasons for "The Simpsons," which will push it past "Gunsmoke" (20 seasons) to make it the longest-running scripted show ever in primetime.
("Gunsmoke," which produced as many as 39 episodes per year in its early days, remains the most prolific prime-time show ever, with a whopping 635 episodes.)
The renewal comes a few days after 20th Century Fox sealed a new deal with executive producer James L. Brooks and his company, Gracie Films. The show's voice actors are already under contract through the additional term.
FOX and the studio recently launched a year-long celebration of "The Simpsons" to celebrate its two decades on the air, which will culminate on Jan. 14, 2010, which FOX is calling the anniversary of the show's debut. (Some would say, though, that "Simpsons Roasting Over an Open Fire," a Christmas-themed episode that aired Dec. 17, 1989, marked the premiere.)