Forget Ibiza or the French Riviera, the hottest ticket out of Hollywood this summer is for Springfield, USA.
Fox announced the latest batch of A-listers primed to lend their voices to yellow-faced, four-fingered doppelgangers for The Simpsons' 18th season, kicking off in September.
Natalie Portman, Kiefer Sutherland, the White Stripes, Michael Imperioli, Joe Pantoliano, Dr. Phil McGraw and Betty White are among the eclectic group of celebs set to guest star in the upcoming season. Jon Lovitz, Harry Hamlin and Monty Python's Eric Idle are also lending their pipes to the long-running 'toon.
The season premiere, titled "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and His Homer," follows the same mob theme as last year's season opener, and again sees the return of Joe Mantegna as Springfield's resident Mafioso Fat Tony. When Fat Tony is shot and his son forsakes the family business to become a chef, henchmen Dante (Pantoliano) and Dante Jr. (Imperioli) promote Homer to godfather status--with predictably disastrous results.
The White Stripes drop by Springfield for an intimate gig in the second episode of the season, "Jazzy and the Pussycats." Bart ends up with a mangled drumming arm after a run-in with a stray tiger Lisa rescues from the pound. He organizes a benefit concert to raise money for his operation at which Jack and Meg White perform.
Dr. Phil puts his talent for scaring small children to use in the show's annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode, airing, per tradition, after Halloween on Nov. 5. The good doctor will be joined by the equally frightening Fran Drescher and Richard Lewis.
Fox gets some synergistic mileage on Nov. 12 when Jack Bauer's alter ego drops by. In "GI (Annoyed Grunt)," While Bart narrowly escapes enlistment in the Army when he turns 18, Homer isn't so lucky. He finds himself enrolled in basic training where his laziness and indifference rile up his hardcore colonel (Sutherland).
Details on story lines involving Portman, Idle and Betty White were not released, though the network said their episodes would run in the second half of the season.
Meanwhile, some literary rock stars are also set for visits. Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen will make cameos.
Which means, come next year, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has got its work cut out.
A guest spot on The Simpsons could equal something for the trophy case. Just ask Kelsey Grammer, who has been tapped to receive the Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance Aug. 19 for reprising his role as the nefarious Sideshow Bob last season.
The series itself is the all-time animated Emmy champ, netting an impressive 22 trophies over its 17-year span.
The Simpsons' 18th season kicks off Sept. 10 on Fox.