ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — Come April 27, there will still be a city with roughly 31,000 residents tucked into the Allegheny Mountains.
What there won't be is a city named Altoona.
That's because the city has sold its name to make some money — and to help documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock make a point.
City Council on Wednesday approved a deal to change the city's name to "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" for 60 days.
Spurlock, who skewered McDonald's Corp. and the fast-food industry with the film "Super Size Me," has agreed to pay the city $25,000 that will benefit its police department to name the city after his movie, which spotlights the proliferation of paid product placements in American life and popular culture.
POM Wonderful, a Los Angeles juice company, paid $1 million to be the movie's title sponsor. The film premieres April 20 in Los Angeles and will screen in Altoona on April 27, the day the city's temporary name change takes effect.
Altoona isn't the first city to allow itself to be wooed into changing its name for a celebrity.
Truth or Consequences, N.M., was known as Hot Springs until radio quiz show host Ralph Edwards pitched a promotion in 1950, offering to take his show on the road for a live broadcast to the first town that renamed itself after his popular program.
"I can't think of a better way to celebrate the shifting tide of business in America than by purchasing the naming rights to Altoona," Spurlock said in a release announcing the transaction on Thursday.
And while the movie pokes fun at ubiquitous product placements and sponsorships, it's also helping one local business to practice what the movie preaches against, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Sheetz, an Altoona-based convenience store chain, paid $100,000 to be a secondary sponsor, which gives it the right to put product placements in the film.
The Altoona Mirror says executive vice president for marketing, Louie Sheetz, told city council on Wednesday that he was skeptical of Spurlock's movie pitch at first, and more than a little fearful that the film would harpoon businesses like his.
"I didn't return his call. I didn't want to speak to that man," Sheetz said of Spurlock. But Sheetz came around.
"We've learned to love and appreciate him," Sheetz said. "We're in on the joke."
Mayor Bill Schirf said the movie is an opportunity to show off the city.
"Clearly, the people of Altoona have a sense of humor," Schirf said. "And an asking price."