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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Simpsons challenged over Rio 'jokes'
The Simpsons
The episode featured street children and monkeys
The makers of US cartoon family The Simpsons are facing legal action after Rio de Janeiro's tourist board complained about an episode that made fun of the city.

It showed the main character Homer being robbed by street children and kidnapped by an unlicensed taxi, and monkeys overrunning an orphanage in the Brazilian city.

The tourist board said it could take a joke - but that the episode went too far and undermined an 18m (12.5m) advertising campaign to attract visitors to the city.

Rio carnival
Rio is trying to sell itself as a tourist destination
The episode, screened in the United States on 31 March, saw the family go to search for an orphan Lisa had sponsored.

Jose Eduardo Guinle, president of Riotur, Rio's tourist board, requested a copy of the show and asked his lawyers what legal action could be taken.

"He understands it is a satire," a Riotur spokesman said.

"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."

The episode also saw Bart swallowed by boa constrictor, police portrayed as lazy and unhelpful, and slums as dirty and dangerous.

When the fictional family found the orphan, he had won fame and fortune on television and paid Homer's ransom to thank Lisa for a pair of shoes to help him escape the monkeys.

Jokes

The Simpsons, one of the most popular current comedy shows in the world, has played on national stereotypes several times in the past.

It has shown the English as football hooligans, Canadians as "clean and bland", while Australia, Japan and France have also been the butt of jokes.

Riotur said producers could donate profits from the episode to help Rio's orphans if they were concerned.

More than 220,000 US citizens had visited Rio in 2001, they said.

The Simpsons, which has been running since the late 1980s, is made by TV network Fox.

See also:

20 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Channel 4 lands Simpsons
17 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
BBC quits Simpsons talks
03 Feb 02 | Scotland
Simpsons offer 'moral orientation'
31 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Simpsons 'more interesting' than Royalty
28 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Simpsons tops kids' TV poll
07 May 01 | TV and Radio
Homer voted top TV star
01 May 01 | TV and Radio
The Simpsons keep 3m voices
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