Springfield competes to host ‘Simpsons’ movie premiere

Friday, June 15, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:56 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

SPRINGFIELD — Lights, cameras, doughnuts. This Ozarks city wants hundreds of residents to turn out Saturday to film a mass scene for its entry in a national contest to host next month’s premiere of the movie version of long-running TV cartoon “The Simpsons.”

Missouri’s third-largest city is competing with 13 other Springfields around the country for the honor and the publicity. Springfield is the name of the Simpsons’ fictional hometown.

The competition requires each city to produce a three-to-five minute video depicting its “Simpsons spirit.” Entries are due June 25 to 20th Century Fox, and a winner will be picked by public voting on the USA Today Web site. The winning Springfield will host the premiere of “The Simpsons Movie,” which opens nationwide July 27.

Doughnuts, one of Homer Simpson’s favorite foods, will be among the props for Saturday’s mass scene in a downtown square.

Filmmakers Jeff Clinkenbeard and Kyaw Tha Hla are keeping much of their plan under wraps, saying they don’t want to give other Springfields ideas. But officials say some doughnuts will be frosted pink, like they are in the series, and they will be thrown rather than eaten.

The filmmakers also want people to bring protest signs against the Simpsons, even though the film as a whole will be about bringing the movie event here.

It is the second and last public filming after scenes shot one week ago during a Springfield Cardinals baseball game at Hammons Field, where the crowd followed directions to boo, cheer and hiss in unison.

“It’s fun,” said Mar’Ellen Felin, spokeswoman for the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There’s a lot of excitement about it, a lot of people talking about it.”

“It’s really the potential for national exposure that’s interesting to us,” she said, adding that the video entry will showcase Springfield’s assets on a national Web site and the movie premiere will draw national media attention.

Resident Lynn Dalton, 61, said she won’t be an extra Saturday but will encourage “every young, flakey person I know” to go.

“I think it’ll be good for the city. It’ll get us away from the Dogpatch image,” Dalton said, referring to the hillbilly town in Al Capp’s comic strip “Li’l Abner”.

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