The Simpsons is poised to surpass Gunsmoke as the longest-running prime-time scripted TV show in history after Fox revealed to a Newsday reporter (albeit reluctantly) that the network has started production on the 21st year, slated to air in the 2009-10 season.
Gunsmoke ran on CBS from 1955 to 1975, running twenty seasons. Law & Order, which debuted nine months after after The Simpsons did, is entering its nineteenth season this fall on NBC.
Thought: If Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, The Price Is Right, Inside Edition, and Oprah can stay on the air seemingly forever and make money for their producers (and in Oprah’s case, herself as well), why can’t The Simpsons? Even though the program’s best days are clearly behind it, it’s still a powerhouse for Fox (particularly among young male demos), and its status as a heritage show means it’ll continue to pull in significant revenue – no matter how well it does in the ratings.