How ‘Simpsons’ tribute to Charlie Hebdo came together

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – A letter in Charlie Hebdo’s latest sold out issue says “Charlie has a lot of new friends,” and it looks like “The Simpsons” are among them.

The longest-running sitcom in history paid tribute to the satirical magazine Sunday with an image of the family’s baby, Maggie, holding a flag with the now-famous slogan “Je Suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie” in English.

Executive producer Al Jean said the idea started last Thursday when one of the show’s original producers, James L. Brooks, suggested making a statement in defense of free speech.

“We looked online and saw the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ posters and thought the ideal person to hold the flag would be Maggie, who doesn’t speak,” Jean said.

Longtime director David Silverman was in charge of crafting the image.

Silverman drew the animation in the spirit of Eugène Delacroix’s famous French painting “Liberty Leading the People” and the iconic poster from the musical “Les Miserables.”

“The whole thing was done in about a day,” Jean said. “We have a really talented staff.”

Many high-profile Americans have spoken out in support of both the victims and free speech, including Jon Stewart and celebrities at Sunday’s Golden Globes.

Jean said “The Simpsons” is picky about making political statements, but that the show needed to address the Charlie Hebdo attack.

“Free speech is the bedrock of what we do,” Jean added. “And this is what we think is under attack… that’s why we decided to do it.”

By Frank Pallotta, CNNMoney