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January 28, 2009

'Bart Simpson' records Scientology ad; producer responds

Scientologist Nancy Cartwright, who does the voice of Bart Simpson on "The Simpsons," has recorded a message in the voice of the iconic animated character promoting the controversial quasi-religious organization. 

Cartwright recorded the pitch (audio below) for a robocall to boost turn-out for a Scientology event at the organization's Hollywood center. Though she takes care to identify herself by her real name and not her character, she uses the Bart voice at a few points in the recording.

“This is not authorized by us," said "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean. "'The Simpsons' does not, and never has, endorsed any religion, philosophy or system of beliefs any more profound than Butterfinger bars." (Okay, it's not Jean's wittiest line).

The move is not only unauthorized, of course, but almost certainly violates Cartwright's contract. Though Fox is remaining mum on the subject, and their legal department is very much looking into the matter, the "Simpsons" characters are owned by Fox. Sure, Scientology is a non-profit group (ahem), but it doesn't matter (a Fox vs. the Church of Scientology lawsuit over the misuse of Bart Simpson? Oh-please, oh-please, oh-please...).

Publicity wise, coming right after the John Travolta fiasco, Cartwright could have probably recorded the message for, say, Hamas, and received less public blowback.

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