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Springfield answers 'Simpsons' casting call

Homer once had a pet lobster. In one episode, same-sex marriage was legalized so the city could attract gay tourists. And Mayor Joe Quimby has an accent that sounds, oh, so much like a Massachusetts politician.

Do these details from "The Simpsons" mean that Springfield, Mass., is the inspiration for the setting of the cartoon that has lampooned America for 18 seasons?

Public officials think so.

A promotion by 20th Century Fox has 16 different Springfields from across the country competing to host the "hometown premiere" of "The Simpsons Movie" in July.

Participants must make a three- to five-minute film showing their Simpsons spirit.

Officials in the Western Massachusetts city decided this week to compete for the honor to weld its identity to the cartoon Springfield.

Some highlights: near nuclear meltdowns; three-eyed fish; and a bumbling protagonist whose fatherly advice generally amounts to an exasperate "D'oh!"

"It's an opportunity to showcase what is so great about this city," Azell Murphy Cavaan, the city's community relations director, said yesterday.

Fox hasn't finalized the details of the contest, but Murphy Cavaan said she was told the city would be provided yellow paint, a replica of Homer's famous couch, and other props from the show to decorate a local theater.

"You know," she said, "Simpson-ize it."