D'oh! Dear Abby yanks column that mirrors 'Simpsons' episode

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Somewhere in Springfield, state unknown, Bart Simpson is in detention, filling a chalkboard with the words "I will not write a fake letter to Dear Abby."

Well, it probably wasn't Bart's handiwork, but he'd no doubt approve of the prank that forced Dear Abby's editors to pull the advice columnist's March 15 edition, which included a letter that mirrored an episode of "The Simpsons."

The Kansas City-based Universal Press Syndicate sent the column to its newspaper subscribers last week. A day later, a newspaper editor called after noticing one of the letters to Abby sounded "awfully familiar," said Sue Roush, one of the column's editors.

In the letter, the writer describes herself as a 34-year-old mother of three who has been married for 10 years to a man who is "greedy, selfish, inconsiderate and rude."

The writer says her husband, Gene, gave her a bowling ball for her birthday -- complete with the holes drilled to fit his fingers and embossed with his name. Undeterred, the woman decides to learn to bowl and heads to the local lanes, where she meets Franco -- a man who is "kind, considerate and loving."

They fall in love and Franco proposes.

The syndicate discovered that Gene acted a lot like Homer Simpson in an episode titled "Life on the Fast Lane."

"It's flattering that someone would think that something as creative as 'The Simpsons' could be passed off as something like that," said Fox spokesman Scott Grogin. "But obviously it has no basis in reality."

Jeanne Phillips, who writes Dear Abby, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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