Sorry Oregon, you won't be able to claim Homer, Bart and the rest of The Simpsons clan as your own. The Simpsons creator Matt Groening confirms exclusively to TV Guide Magazine that his recent statements were misinterpreted — he did not reveal that his long-running animated Fox comedy was set in Oregon.
"I never said Springfield was in Oregon," Groening says. "I said Springfield was the name of my sled."
Groening is responding to rampant reports that claimed he had suddenly revealed one of the biggest secrets of The Simpsons' 23-season history. In an interview with Smithsonian magazine, Groening confirmed something that he had actually mentioned several times in the past: That he named the show's setting after Springfield, Oregon.
"When I was a kid, the TV show Father Knows Best took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown," he told the magazine. "When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, 'This will be cool; everyone will think it's their Springfield.' And they do."
But that's a far cry from proclaiming that the show actually takes place in Oregon. The Simpsons executive producer Al Jean also tells TV Guide Magazine that it was one big misunderstanding — which was then repeated on virtually every news program and in every newspaper in the country. "They misinterpreted something I've heard him say for at least 10 or 20 years," Jean says. "He was inspired by growing up in Portland, but it's really an every town. It's really funny. Matt grew up in Oregon and parts of The Simpsons were definitely inspired by his childhood. But there is no specific state that Springfield is in, and we will never reveal that secret... except this coming Sunday at 8," he quips.
Jean says the brouhaha reminds him of what happened last year when news outlets picked up on an item that Michael Jackson didn't do the singing in the episode that he guest voiced. That reveal wasn't new — it was plainly stated by one of the producers on the show's DVD audio commentary track. "I guess news now is just finding something that people forgot and then talking a lot about it," he says.
"On the other hand," Jean says he's "flattered they still care. And in conclusion, there is an answer if you just put all the clues together." (He's joking, fans.) "In the movie we say it borders on Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky. So good luck finding that state. When you do, you're a true Simpsons fan."
Meanwhile, Jean says this Sunday's couch gag was created by famed animator Bill Plympton, who's known for his cartoon shorts such as Your Face and Guard Dog. Plympton joins Banksy and John Kricfalusi in designing such gags. In this one, Plympton "reveals that Homer had a romantic past with the couch, and that there is a love child couch that Homer has to acknowledge," Jean says. "But it's very sweet."
But conspiracy theorists, take note: Plympton, like Groening, hails from Oregon.
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