Somebody will die on The Simpsons in the near future – and it could be the beloved and besotted character of Krusty the Clown.
As reported by Mashable, veteran Simpsons executive producer Al Jean reconfirmed his earlier assertion that a full-time character will perish when the animated series opens its 26th season on September 29.
And when Jean revealed that the season-opener was titled "Clown in the Dumps" at a Fox panel during the Television Critics Association panel on the weekend, journalists naturally assumed Krusty would be the one to go.
But Jean remained sly on the fate of the buffoonish character, who still figures prominently in most Simpsons story lines.
"I didn't say I was killing Krusty," said Jean at the Sunday press session, before adding, "I didn't say I wasn't."
When pressed further on the issue, Jean would only allow that the soon-to-depart Simpsons character was voiced by an actor who has previously won an Emmy for his or her work.
And the nominees in that august group include: Dan Castellaneta - who voices both Krusty and patriarch Homer Simpson – along with Hank Azaria (Moe, Apu), Kelsey Grammer (Sideshow Bob), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Julie Kavner (Marge), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), the late Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel) and Jackie Mason (Krusty's father, rabbi Hyman Krustofski).
At the same press conference, Jean said he was surprised by the vociferous fan and media reaction to the planned departure of a Simpsons character, which he revealed in passing last fall. "Suddenly it became this huge guessing game," he said.
And while Jean remained coy on who was leaving the show, he was forthcoming in regard to other upcoming Simpsons details.
The new season will include guest-voice appearances from the likes of Jane Fonda, Sarah Silverman and Willem Dafoe (who voices Bart's new teacher), reports Mashable.
And yes, it's true, The Simpsons will finally air the long-gestating crossover episode with the animated series Futurama.
Also next season, viewers will finally see the long-awaited episode penned by film-comedy auteur Judd Apatow, which he originally wrote and submitted to the show more than 20 years ago.
But fans of animated TV clan probably shouldn't hold their breath waiting for a second big-screen feature starring The Simpsons.
"I wouldn't want to do another movie unless it was a movie we really believed in," said Jean. "We'd never do it just to say, 'Oh, here's the second movie.' I'd much rather no movie than a crummy movie."