D'oh! It's the battle of the Springfields

It’s the biggest riddle of the world’s longest-running cartoon series—exactly where is Springfield, home of yellow-skinned social misfit Homer Simpson, his big-haired wife Marge and their children Bart, Lisa and Maggie? Despite numerous hints over 18 years and more than 400 episodes of The Simpsons, the producers have always kept the location a closely guarded secret.

But now, in a competition coinciding with the release of the long-awaited Simpsons Movie, the truth may finally emerge. Towns called Springfield in 14 states are vying for the right to be recognised as the official abode of America’s most dysfunctional family—and the winner will host the official “yellow carpet” film premiere on 26 July.

“We like to keep them all in suspense,” said Simpsons creator Matt Groening at a screening of a section of the film in London last week. “It’s been a little game.”

Springfields as far apart as Florida, Oregon, Louisiana and Vermont were sent a video camera by Fox Studios and residents were asked to produce a short film showcasing their own versions of cartoon mainstays such as Moe’s Tavern and the Krusty Burger fast-food joint.

The early front-runner is in Massachusetts, where producers took the competition so seriously that they pressed political heavyweight Ted Kennedy into service to campaign for the town.
The senator agreed to take part despite being lampooned in the show as “Diamond Joe” Quimby, Springfield’s sleazy, womanising mayor.

The entry’s producer, David Horgan, believes Kennedy’s appearance is the town’s trump card. “Fox TV have been trying to get him to appear in the show for 18 years and here he is coming to the aid of our small town,” he said. “What Kennedy did for us was outstanding.”

Cameo appearances, of course, are a Simpsons speciality. Tony Blair, JK Rowling, Paul McCartney and Stephen Hawking have all been persuaded to go yellow.

Two Springfields, in Minnesota and Georgia, declined to take part. “We’re a clean, close-knit community with no pollution, no waste dumps and nobody misbehaving all the time,” sniffed Mac Tilberg, city manager of Springfield, Minnesota. “Everything that the Simpsons’ Springfield is, we’re not.”

Fans of The Simpsons, a three-times winner of best international show at the British Comedy Awards, have long enjoyed analysing episodes for clues to the whereabouts of Springfield. America’s different time zones are a recurring theme, with many believing Homer must live on the West Coast because he has spent Sunday mornings watching American football games that kick off in the afternoon farther east.

“Springfield is everywhere and nowhere,” said Matt McAllister, professor of popular culture at Penn State University, Pennsylvania. “It’s a weird mix of small-town localism, yet it always has celebrities going through.” - Guardian Unlimited Â

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