Is that the sound of a shark jumping, or the longest running prime time animated series performing a cameo coup that no other TV show has been able to pull off. Well done to The Simpsons not only for their 500th episode, but also for a great get. From the press release:

Though in real life he may be trapped in Britain, Australian WikiLeaks founder/editor-in-chief Julian Assange will head to the animated world of Springfield as a guest star on the 500th episode of The Simpsons airing on ELEVEN in March.

Simpsons executive producer Al Jean says when series creator Matt Groening heard Assange was interested in appearing on the show, the controversial activist was located and his lines recorded at an unknown location. Jean directed Assange remotely from Los Angeles.

In the milestone episode, The Simpsons decide to hit the road after discovering the rest of the town’s planning to boot them out of Springfield. “…the Simpsons go off the grid to this very rugged place where they meet [Assange], who’s sort of their new Flanders,” explains Jean. And how exactly is he like pious neighbor Ned? “Well, he lives next door,” quips Jean. “The similarities end there…” He invites them over for a home movie and it’s an Afghan wedding being bombed.”

“He’s a controversial figure, and there’s a good reason he’s controversial,” says Jean. “There was discussion internally whether or not to have him on the show, but ultimately we went ahead and did it.” Jean points out that “there’s nothing we did that has anything to do with the legal situation that he’s in…We wanted to make sure it was satirical, and he was willing to do that.”

All new episodes of The Simpsons air on Wednesday nights at 7:30PM on ELEVEN, and still to come on TEN, Underground – The Julian Assange Story, a real-life drama focused on an 18-year-old Assange and the underground hacker movement.