Springfield, Kentucky Trying To Draw Premiere of "Simpsons" Movie

Associated Press Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Homer, meet Gomer Simpson.

He's the Kentucky-fried version of the TV cartoon dad, and part of the effort by the town of Springfield, Ky., to attract the world premiere of the upcoming "Simpsons Movie."

The central Kentucky town of about 3,000 is one of 14 Springfields around the country staking a claim to the Simpsons' fictional homestead.

Each town was asked by 20th Century Fox to produce a brief comedic video to make its case - and online voting by fans will decide the outcome. The winning town will host the July 26 movie premiere.

"We decided that we wanted to do something different than what we thought the other Springfields would do," said Michael Breeding, a Lexington filmmaker who produced Kentucky's five-minute entry. "We felt like so many of the other Springfields would just mirror and mimic some of the episodes."

The Kentucky version imagines "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening traveling to the state in the 1980s and finding inspiration for the dysfunctional cartoon family. Groening, played by Springfield real-estate agent Scott Fattizzi, is brought to the Washington County courthouse in present day and shown evidence that the Kentucky town is the basis for the long-running Fox TV series.

"We see him observing our little town, which all becomes evidence in our courtroom scene," said Breeding, who grew up in Springfield.

You won't find a nuclear plant in Kentucky's Springfield, but there are plenty of parallels to Homer, Bart, Marge and Lisa's hometown.

There's the statue in front of the Washington County courthouse that was vandalized in the late 1980s, much like the Jebediah Springfield statue Bart secretly beheaded in the series' first season. And what about residents Gomer Simpson (imaginary) and local bus driver James "Pogo" Mann (real), whose name bears an eery resemblance to Bart's own driver, Otto Mann. Cartoon Springfield's oft-mentioned neighbor to the north, Shelbyville, is another real town just a short drive from the Kentucky Springfield.

"Once we developed our concept, and stuck to our concept, it just sort of unfolded," said Breeding, who has produced several Kentucky-based documentaries.

A committee stacked with local "Simpsons" savants kicked around ideas with guidance from Breeding, said Hal Goode, director of economic development for the town and a committee member.

"I've watched it since I was in my early 20s," Goode said. He said about 150 local residents took part in the film, which also includes a contribution from Rick Dees and original music by Beau Haddock.

Kentucky has hosted other high-profile movie premieres, namely "Seabiscuit" in 2003 and "Elizabethtown" in 2005, said Todd Cassidy, who heads the Kentucky Film Office.

Kentucky's "Simpsons" film, which debuts on the web this week, is sure to have stiff competition from other state entries.

Illinois' Springfield has a power plant run by a man who looks a lot like Mr. Burns, Homer's boss; Vermont's video short features a giant, rolling donut; and Massachusetts' has a cameo from Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose Bostonian accent mirrors the Simpsons' Mayor Fred Quimby.

Viewers can vote for their favorite Springfield at USA Today's web site beginning Thursday, and online voting is tallied through July 9.

The rest of the Springfields are in Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Colorado and Louisiana.
Contest information:
Michael Breeding Media: www.michaelbreedingmedia.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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