Ken Keeler

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Ken Keeler
Ken Keeler by Gage Skidmore.jpg
BornKenneth Keeler
1961 (age 5758)
United States
OccupationTelevision writer

Kenneth Keeler (born 1961) is an American television producer and writer. He has written for numerous television series, most notably The Simpsons and Futurama . According to an interview with David X. Cohen, he proved a theorem which appears in the Futurama episode "The Prisoner of Benda". [1]

<i>The Simpsons</i> American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of working-class life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition.

<i>Futurama</i> American comedic animated television show

Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of slacker Philip J. Fry, who is cryogenically preserved for 1000 years and is revived in the 31st century. Fry finds work at an interplanetary delivery company. The series was envisioned by Groening in the mid-1990s while working on The Simpsons; he brought David X. Cohen aboard to develop storylines and characters to pitch the show to Fox.

David X. Cohen Television writer

David Samuel Cohen, better known as David X. Cohen, is an American television writer. He began working on Beavis and Butt-Head, has written for The Simpsons, and served as the head writer and executive producer of Futurama. Cohen is a producer of Disenchantment, Matt Groening's series for Netflix.


Education and early career

Keeler studied applied mathematics at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude in 1983. He then gained a master's degree from Stanford in electrical engineering before returning to Harvard. [2] He earned a PhD in applied mathematics from Harvard in 1990. His doctoral thesis was "Map Representations and Optimal Encoding for Image Segmentation". [3]

Applied mathematics Application of mathematical methods to other fields

Applied mathematics is the application of mathematical methods by different fields such as science, engineering, business, computer science, and industry. Thus, applied mathematics is a combination of mathematical science and specialized knowledge. The term "applied mathematics" also describes the professional specialty in which mathematicians work on practical problems by formulating and studying mathematical models. In the past, practical applications have motivated the development of mathematical theories, which then became the subject of study in pure mathematics where abstract concepts are studied for their own sake. The activity of applied mathematics is thus intimately connected with research in pure mathematics.

Harvard University Private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities. The university is often cited as the world's top tertiary institution by most publishers.

After earning his doctorate, Keeler joined the Performance Analysis Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories.


He soon left Bell Labs to write for David Letterman and subsequently for various sitcoms, including several episodes of Wings , The Simpsons , Futurama , and The Critic , as well as the short-lived Fox claymation show The PJs . For The Simpsons, Keeler has written such episodes as "A Star Is Burns" (which Matt Groening refused to be credited for, as he was opposed to the idea of The Simpsons crossing over with The Critic) and "The Principal and the Pauper" (which many fans – including series creator Matt Groening and voice actor Harry Shearer  – disliked due to the massive changes in Principal Skinner's backstory). [4] [5]

David Letterman American comedian and actor

David Michael Letterman is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He hosted late night television talk shows for 33 years, beginning with the February 1, 1982, debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, and ending with the May 20, 2015, broadcast of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. In total, Letterman hosted 6,080 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, surpassing his friend and mentor Johnny Carson as the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history. In 1996 Letterman was ranked 45th on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time. In 2002, The Late Show with David Letterman was ranked seventh on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

<i>The Critic</i> Animated American television series

The Critic is an American prime time animated series revolving around the life of New York film critic Jay Sherman, voiced by actor Jon Lovitz. It was created by writing partners Al Jean and Mike Reiss, who had previously worked as writers and showrunners on The Simpsons. The Critic had 23 episodes produced, first broadcast on ABC in 1994, and finishing its original run on Fox in 1995. According to PopMatters, "the creators [said] they intended the series as their 'love letter to New York.'"

Fox Broadcasting Company American television network

The Fox Broadcasting Company is an American commercial terrestrial television network that is a flagship property of the Fox Corporation. The network is headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, with additional offices at the Fox Broadcasting Center and at the Fox Television Center in Los Angeles.

Keeler was instrumental in the creation of Futurama , and served as a co-executive producer in its first three years, and as an executive producer in its fourth year. He was one of the show's most prolific writers, with fourteen episodes to his name (including the original series finale, "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", the Writers Guild Award-winning episodes "Godfellas" and "The Prisoner of Benda," and the series finale "Meanwhile"). Keeler wrote many of the original songs on both The Simpsons and Futurama during his time with the shows. He also wrote the direct-to-DVD Futurama movies Bender's Big Score and Into the Wild Green Yonder .

"The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" is the final episode in the fourth season of the American animated television series Futurama, and the finale of the original run. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on August 10, 2003. The episode was written by Ken Keeler and directed by Bret Haaland, and it guest stars Dan Castellaneta, who reprises his role as the Robot Devil. Keeler was nominated for an Emmy Award for this episode, while the song "I Want My Hands Back" was nominated for an Annie Award.

"Godfellas" is the 20th episode in the third season of the American animated television series Futurama. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 17, 2002. The episode was written by Ken Keeler and directed by Susie Dietter. It features Bender becoming the god of a tiny civilization, and explores various religious issues. The episode won the first Writers Guild of America Award for animation.

"The Prisoner of Benda" is the 10th episode of the sixth season of the animated sitcom Futurama. It aired on Comedy Central on August 19, 2010. In the episode, Professor Farnsworth and Amy build a machine that allows them to switch minds so that they may each pursue their lifelong dreams. However, they learn that the machine cannot be used twice on the same pairing of bodies. To try to return to their rightful bodies, they involve the rest of the crew in the mind switches, leaving each member free to pursue their own personal endeavors in a different crew member's body. The episode is composed of multiple subplots, with the main subplot being Bender attempting to steal a crown, but ending up switching places with the Robo-Hungarian emperor.

Writing credits

The Simpsons episodes

A Star Is Burns 121st episode of the sixth season of The Simpsons

"A Star Is Burns" is the eighteenth episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 5, 1995. In the episode, Springfield decides to hold a film festival, and famed critic Jay Sherman is invited to be a judge.

"Two Bad Neighbors" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 14, 1996. In the episode, George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, voiced in the episode by Harry Shearer, moves into the house across the street from the Simpson family.

"Treehouse of Horror VII" is the first episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 27, 1996. In the seventh annual Treehouse of Horror episode, Bart discovers his long-lost twin, Lisa grows a colony of small beings, and Kang and Kodos impersonate Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in order to win the 1996 presidential election. It was written by Ken Keeler, Dan Greaney, and David S. Cohen, and directed by Mike B. Anderson. Phil Hartman provided the voice of Bill Clinton.

Futurama episodes and films

The Critic episodes

Wings episodes

Personal life

Keeler is also a fan of (but of no relation to) Harry Stephen Keeler and won the fifth and twelfth annual Imitate Keeler Competitions. [6] [7] His Futurama episode "Time Keeps on Slippin'" was partly inspired by the Harry Stephen Keeler story "Strange Romance" from the novel Y. Cheung, Business Detective .

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Matt Groening American cartoonist

Matthew Abraham Groening is an American cartoonist, writer, producer, animator, and voice actor. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell (1977–2012) and the television series The Simpsons (1989–present), Futurama, and Disenchantment (2018–present). The Simpsons is the longest-running U.S. primetime-television series in history and the longest-running U.S. animated series and sitcom.

Bender (<i>Futurama</i>) Futurama character

Bender Bending Rodríguez is one of the main characters in the animated television series Futurama. He was conceived by the series' creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, and is voiced by John DiMaggio. He fulfills a comic, antihero-type role in Futurama and is described by fellow character Leela as an "alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking gambler".

Philip J. Fry main character in the television show Futurama

Philip J. Fry, commonly known simply by his surname Fry, is a fictional character and the protagonist of the animated sitcom Futurama. He is voiced by Billy West using a version of his own voice as he sounded when he was 25. He is a slacker delivery boy from the 20th century who becomes cryogenically frozen and reawakens in the 30th century to become a delivery boy there with an intergalactic delivery company run by his 30th great nephew, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth. He is the best friend and roommate of Bender and the boyfriend and later husband of Turanga Leela. He is the father of Yancy Fry, Sr. as well as the stepfather of Kif's offspring.

Leela (<i>Futurama</i>) Main character in the television show Futurama

Leela is a fictional character from the animated television series Futurama. Leela is spaceship captain, pilot, and head of all aviation services on board the Planet Express Ship. Throughout the series, she has an on-again, off-again relationship with and eventually marries Philip J. Fry, the central character in the series and becomes the mother to Kif's offspring and in the comics only, Elena Fry. The character, voiced by Katey Sagal, is named after the Turangalîla-Symphonie by Olivier Messiaen. She is one of the few characters in the cast to routinely display competence and the ability to command, and routinely saves the rest of the cast from disaster, but suffers extreme self-doubt because she has only one eye and grew up as a bullied orphan. She first believes herself an alien but later is revealed to be the least-mutated sewer mutant in the history of 31st-century Earth. Her family parodies aspects of pollution and undesirability associated with industrial New Jersey when compared with New York City.

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Space Pilot 3000 1st episode of the first season of Futurama

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"Time Keeps On Slippin" is the fourteenth episode in season three of the animated television series Futurama. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 6, 2001. The title is from a lyric in "Fly Like an Eagle" by Steve Miller Band. Basketball and time-travel play a prominent role in this episode.

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  1. Levine, Alaina G. "Profiles in Versatility:". American Physics Society. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  2. "The Truth About Bender's Brain" . Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  3. Keeler, Kenneth Charles (October 25, 1990). "Map representations and optimal encoding for image segmentation" . Retrieved October 25, 2018 via Open WorldCat.
  4. Sloane, Robert (2004). "Who Wants Candy? Disenchantment in The Simpsons". In John Alberti (ed.). Leaving Springfield: The Simpsons and the Possibility of Oppositional Culture . Wayne State University Press. p. 165. ISBN   0-8143-2849-0.
  5. Turner 2004, pp. 41–42.
  6. "Fifth Annual Imitate Keeler Competition". Retrieved October 25, 2018.