(THE REAL) SPRINGFIELD? — “‘Family Guy’ would never do this!”
That’s what city of Springfield spokesman Niel Laudati says he told Matt Groening’s publicist on Thursday, after learning that “The Simpsons” creator backtracked on his claim earlier in the week that Springfield, Ore., was indeed the inspiration for the cartoon family’s hometown.
Laudati said he wasn’t really upset with Fox TV spokeswoman Antonia Coffman and was just poking fun, which is exactly what Groening, who grew up in Portland, seems to be doing with this latest “Springfield controversy” he’s created.
Groening is quoted in the May issue of Smithsonian magazine, which went online Tuesday, as saying for the first time ever — and 23 years since the animated show hit the airwaves — that “Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon ...” and not Springfield, Vt. or Springfield, Ill., or any other Springfield.
When the interviewer asked if he’d really ever revealed that before, Groening said: “I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, ‘Yup, that’s right.’”
But when the latest edition of TV Guide went online Thursday, there was Groening saying this: “I never said Springfield was in Oregon. I said Springfield was the name of my sled.”
Groening was obviously making a reference to the 1941 film “Citizen Kane” and the final scene’s revelation that the mystery of the word “Rosebud” was actually the name of the main character’s sled.
But didn’t Groening basically admit in 2007 that Springfield (the one across the river from Eugene) was the “real” Springfield when he said just that on a plaque he sent the city?
“Yo to Springfield, Oregon — The Real Springfield!” said the plaque that Groening sent after the city lost out to Springfield, Vt., in an online voting contest for the right to air the worldwide “hometown premiere” of “The Simpsons Movie.”
Speaking of Springfield, Vt., after Groening’s revelations in the Smithsonian, this is what Springfield (Vt.) Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carol Cole said in the Rutland (Vt.) Herald on Thursday: “Even though we were the new adopted home of the Simpsons, I don’t think anyone had any indication prior to the interview that Springfield, Ore., was the actual home of ‘The Simpsons.’ We’ll just continue along and build on the town’s tradition, with or without the ‘Home of the Simpsons’ banner.”
Laudati said the local Springfield has been flooded with media calls from around the globe this week. The Guardian newspaper of London even flew a reporter in on Thursday, he said. The BBC has called. So has BBC Scotland and a reporter with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
“We’re not really disappointed that he said it,” Laudati said of Groening’s comments in TV Guide. “We’re still going to move forward like we always do, because we know the truth. You have to take it all with a grain of salt. We’re very confident in what we’re doing in the city of Springfield, so we’re not afraid to laugh at ourselves. Anything that causes a fun buzz within the city is a good thing.”
Asked what he thought of Groening’s backtracking, Laudati said: “I don’t even think that he’s backtracking. I just think (the show has) a lot of smart writers and they’re making the most of it. It’s in their best interest to let as many Springfields as possible think it’s their town.”