Julian Assange to guest star on "The Simpsons"
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be a guest character and voice on animated TV comedy "The Simpsons," playing a neighbor of the family after they move from their home in fictional Springfield.
Assange's "brief" guest starring role will be on the show's February 19 program, which marks the 500th episode of "The Simpsons," said Antonia Coffman, a spokeswoman for the show airing on the Fox television network in the United States.
In the episode, the Simpsons -- Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and their pets -- leave home and move to a rugged and isolated area where the find themselves living next to Assange, who portrays himself.
Simpsons executive producer Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly magazine that the show's creative team realizes Assange is "controversial," but that in putting together the show they avoided delving into his "legal situation." Instead, the writers made sure the appearance was satirical. Assange recorded his lines remotely from Britain.
Assange is currently under house arrest outside London and due to appear before Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday to appeal his extradition to Sweden where he has been accused of sexual misconduct by two former WikiLeaks volunteers.
He angered U.S. officials in 2010 when WikiLeaks, in partnership with major newspapers, published a trove of leaked diplomatic cables that exposed the candid views of American officials and their allies about a wide range of topics including the wars in Afghanistan and, at the time, Iraq.
Assange and his supporters are concerned that if he is extradited to Sweden, U.S. officials might attempt to have him brought to the United States where possibly he could be charged for crimes related to the leaked documents.
Last week, Kremlin-funded English language channel Russia Today revealed it had given Assange his own television talk show. Assange will interview noteworthy figures on a show dubbed "The World Tomorrow," the channel said.
"The Simpsons," which debuted in 1989 on Fox, is the longest running primetime, scripted television series.
(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)
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