'Simpsons' Producer Brooks Apologizes to Rio
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Don't Blame it on Rio -- James Brooks, executive producer of TV comedy "The Simpsons," apologized to Rio de Janeiro this week for a recent episode of the long-running animated show in which the city was depicted with rats and monkeys teeming on its streets.
"We apologize to the lovely city and people of Rio de Janeiro," Brooks said in a statement on Friday.
"If that doesn't settle the issue, Homer Simpson offers to take on the President of Brazil on Fox Celebrity Boxing," he added, clearly unable to resist having a little fun.
"The Simpsons" is a satirical look at a modern American family. It airs on the Fox network, which has a reputation for pushing the envelope in programming, and "Celebrity Boxing" is one of its more recent shows to do so.
A recent episode had stars of 1970s TV sitcoms "The Partridge Family" and "The Brady Bunch" battling each other in the ring.
But the people of Rio de Janeiro weren't laughing at "The Simpsons" episode, titled "Blame it on Lisa," a play on the title of a 1984 movie, "Blame it on Rio."
Rio's tourist board said on Monday it was considering legal action against "The Simpsons" producers for undermining its $18 million tourism campaign.
In the episode, bumbling family head Homer Simpson is robbed by street kids and kidnapped by an unlicensed taxi driver after his family ventures to Rio to find a missing orphan that daughter Lisa sponsored.
The family runs across rats and monkeys while looking for the orphan. When they find him, he has grown rich working on a television show and pays for Homer's release in gratitude for shoes Lisa had bought him to escape monkeys at the orphanage.
Rio tourism board president Jose Eduardo Guinle asked the board's legal team to look into what action could be taken.
"He understands it is a satire," tourism board spokesman Sergio Cavalcanti said at the time. "What really hurt was the idea of the monkeys, the image that Rio de Janeiro was a jungle. ... It's a completely unreal image of the city."
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