Best known as the showrunner for "The Simpsons" (Fox 1989- ), the longest running American primetime scripted series of all time, Al Jean first earned his comedy stripes in the hallowed halls of the humor publication <i>The Harvard Lampoon</i>. The Michigan-born mathematics major had enrolled at Harvard University at the young age of 16, and though he would begin his studies in pre-med and eventually shift into math, it was his extra-curricular life at the <i>Lampoon</i> that would foretell the most about Jean's future career. It was there that Jean met Mike Reiss, who would become his writing partner. After graduating with his bachelor's degree in 1981, Jean teamed up with Reiss on a number of television projects, and the two were eventually hired together to write and produce for major TV series such as "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC 1962-1992) and "It's Garry Shandling's Show" (Showtime 1986-1990). When the duo was offered the chance to write for an upcoming animated series called "The Simpsons" in 1989, Jean and Reiss discovered that many of their peers had turned the same offer down, convinced that a cartoon wouldn't last long in a primetime timeslot. The two were excited about the idea, however, and signed on to help script the show's debut season. "The Simpsons" was loved by viewers and praised by critics for its mixture of emotional warmth and sharp social commentary, making it a runaway success. By its third season, Jean was working as the series' showrunner, overseeing all aspects of production. In 1994, however, after its fourth season, Jean and Reiss left the series in order to pursue their own animated project, a primetime comedy about a stuffy movie reviewer called "The Critic" (ABC / Fox 1994-95). The project featured comedy great Jon Lovitz as the voice of the main character and was executive produced by "Simpsons" creator James L. Brooks. However, as the show fluctuated between timeslots and even networks, it failed to secure an audience and was cancelled before it could see a second season, though it would go on to become a beloved cult hit on DVD. Undaunted, Jean and Reiss moved on to sign a deal with The Walt Disney Company, developing the show "Teen Angel" (ABC 1997-98). When that series also failed to pan out, Jean was eventually able to return to "The Simpsons" in 1998. By 2001, he had once again assumed the position of showrunner, though for the first time, he was doing so without Reiss. This period would prove a great success for both Jean and the entire "Simpsons" team, and he would remain with the show for years to come, even helping to write and produce the feature length "The Simpsons Movie" (2007).