Following Prince's sudden death last week, The Simpsons' showrunner Al Jean has shared screencaps from an episode of the animated show with a part written for Prince that the singer rejected. Conan O'Brien helped work on the script for "The Prince Episode," which would have run during the series' fifth season.
Unearthing the script began when an Australian music site titled TheMusic.com.au wrote about the fabled Prince episode of The Simpsons, a story told over the years by various writers. The premise of the show, which has never been produced, was to follow up the Season Three episode "Stark Raving Dad," where Homer Simpson is sent to an insane asylum where he meets a man named Leon Kompowsky. The inmate believes he is Michael Jackson and is even voiced by Jackson, who used the pseudonym John Jay Smith.
The successful episode for the then-fledgling show was to be done once more with the return of Leon who now believes himself to be Prince. Jean responded to TheMusic's story by confirming that the way it had been told by writer Mike Reiss on DVD commentary for the season was the accurate version: the script's original draft was written by Ian Deitchman and Kristin Rusk based on an idea by Jim Brooks with uncredited rewrite by O'Brien.
Jean continued to detail the lost episode, noting that other possibilities for Kompowsky's "identity" were Bobby Goldsboro, Roberta Flack and Leo Sayer. As for Prince's refusal, Jean believed that "Prince didn't want to play second fiddle" to Michael Jackson.
Former producers' assistant Jacqueline Atkins pulled up the script and Jean shared shots of the dialogue, which included a gag where Lisa attempts to buy tickets for Prince's concert, a feat the entire town of Springfield is attempting.
Later, in a scene Jean describes as "possibly another objection Prince had to the script," the show pokes fun at a trio of Prince's films: Graffiti Bridge, Sign O' the Times and Under the Cherry Moon. In the same scene, the artist flirts with Selma Bouvier, the despised sister of the show's matriarch Marge.