Springfield To Host 'Simpsons' Film Debut
By Jack Moran
Published: Thursday, March 8, 2007
SPRINGFIELD - Don't have a cow, man.
But if you're familiar with that phrase, you'll be excited to hear that Springfield - Springfield, Ore., that is - could be the place where Bart, Homer and the rest of the cartoon Simpsons family make their big screen debut this summer.
City officials have accepted an invitation from 20th Century Fox to compete against other Springfields across the country in a contest where the winner will host the premiere screening of "The Simpsons Movie," due out in July. The film is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the year.
"If we're selected, that's nationwide and even worldwide exposure for us," said Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken - not to be confused with Mayor Joe Quimby, of the Simpsons' fictional hometown of Springfield.
"There's plenty of serious issues to talk about, but this is something that we might as well try to have a little fun with," Leiken said.
Gwyne Ortiz, a Fox publicist, said Fox has asked 16 Springfields from Oregon to Massachusetts to participate in the contest.
Studio execs will pick the winner after reviewing short films submitted by local officials. Each entry should showcase a community's positive aspects, and somehow link it to "The Simpsons" TV show. The megapopular prime-time animated series created by Portland-born Matt Groening is now in its 18th season.
"We want each Springfield to express the highlights of what they do, and have it tie into the whole Simpsons element," Ortiz said.
Besides landing the movie premiere, the winning city and its mayor will be included in the film's closing credits.
The Springfield Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Association of Lane County Oregon will help assemble the city's contest entry.
"On a personal level, this is very exciting," said Josh Alder, a longtime Simpsons fan who works as CVALCO's tourism public relations manager. "On a professional level, I think anything like this that could bring tourism to the area is fantastic."
Certainly, some people believe that Oregon's Springfield must be considered the contest's early favorite.
Because Groening is a Portland native, many speculate that he based the Simpsons' hometown on Lane County's second-largest city. It's hardly a flattering idea, considering that on the show, Newsweek ran a story calling Springfield "America's Crud Bucket." The cartoon town is a bizarre yet unremarkable place with a nuclear plant and several prisons.
Scores of Web sites have tried to answer the question: Where is the Simpsons' Springfield? No one can say for sure.
Groening has said that he chose Springfield because it's one of the most common city names in the United States.
In an interview last month with Web magazine Crave Online, Groening said "The Simpsons Movie" will address the question of which state the cartoon family's hometown is in.
"We actually have a really good joke about that (in the movie)," Groening is quoted as saying. "Remember, I said joke."