Just As I Thought

“Honey, are you doing drugs? Todd Bridges is on the phone.”

Earlier this week, my phone company’s voice mail system called me to remind me of my own birthday (today, for those of you who shamefully forgot to order those roses… or that Sony plasma TV I was looking at). That was interesting enough, but today’s Washington Post tells me that I could have had a minor, has-been, B-level celebrity call me instead:

At HollywoodIsCalling.com, a scrappy-looking two-month-old Web site, all that’s required is your credit card number or electronic check in the amount of $19.95, and within seven days you can expect to hear from one bona fide, if slightly faded, celebrity wishing you Happy Halloween, get well soon, or congratulations on your retirement. The 15-second phone call works out to over a dollar a second, which is, if you think about it, a small price to pay for the privilege of knowing that, for example, hunky Lorenzo Lamas is incredibly excited that you’re turning 40.

Hollywood Is Calling has the look of a Web site designed in 1996, with lots of text, poor punctuation and few graphics. Scrolling down the list of 23 celebrities is like viewing a lineup for VH1’s “Where Are They Now?” Many of the photographs are decades old. A few look more like Polaroids than professional head shots. Beneath each picture are the words PLACE YOUR ORDER.

Not only is the website a marvel of poor, fly-by-night design, now that it’s getting publicity it’s bound to get a cease-and-desist from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for the front page photo of the famous Hollywood sign, a trademark.

I think that the true point of this exercise would be to make the recipient realize how lucky he is to not be living the sad quasi-celebrity life of the caller – be it Richard Hatch, Natalie Wood’s sister Lana, or Christopher Atkins. There are a couple of more recent actual celebrities available from Star Trek: John DeLancie (“Q”), Tony Todd, and Tim Russ (“Tuvok”); this strikes me as odd, as I assumed that once on Star Trek, you never had to worry about paying bills again. I suppose this is no different than spending your weekends at Star Trek conventions, telling the same stories over and over.

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