After 15 seasons, one of the characters on ''The Simpsons'' is finally coming out of the closet, setting the stage for TV's first cartoon gay wedding. So says producer Al Jean, who told fans at last weekend's Comic-con convention in San Diego that an episode in the coming season will address the currently topical issue of gay marriage. ''We have a show where, to raise money, Springfield legalizes gay marriage,'' Jean said, according to the Associated Press. ''Homer becomes a minister by going on the Internet and filling out a form. A longtime character comes out of the closet, but I'm not saying who.''
''It's Homer!'' joked creator Matt Groening. OK, it's not Homer, but who? The obvious guess would be nuclear plant owner Mr. Burns' assistant, Waylon Smithers, who's always harbored a barely veiled crush on his ancient boss, but we doubt that Mr. Burns would want to reciprocate, much less make it official with a walk down the aisle. Could it be bartender Moe? Homer's pals Lenny and Carl? Comic Book Guy, who seems to have no romantic life at all? Or one of the female characters?
Other revelations about the upcoming season: Guest voices will include Ray Romano, Kim Cattrall, 50 Cent, and James Caan. Groening also addressed the reports that a ''Simpsons'' big-screen movie is getting underway, telling conventioneers that work probably won't begin in earnest on the film until the series goes off the air. Given the still-strong ratings for TV's longest-running sitcom, that probably won't be any time soon.