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The Biz

Palm latitudes

December 15, 1991|Mark Ehrman | Edited by Mary McNamara

James Schumacher would like everyone to know that he is a computer programmer and has never written or directed a motion picture. Unfortunately, when he moved to Hollywood last June, he had himself listed in the phone book as Schumacher, J. Within a week, the calls came pouring in. "All these people would ask for Joel," Schumacher recalls. "It wasn't until I saw his name on a movie poster that I realized who they wanted."

The Joel they were after is, of course, A-list writer/director Joel--no relation--Schumacher. Dozens of Hollywood hopefuls and real estate and investment brokers were calling directory assistance to find his number. In the face of such naivete, the urge to play along proved irresistible. Schumacher began telling callers Joel was on location. Some became surly. One woman, who identified herself as a casting agent, refused to be put off. "I asked her how she got this number and why she was calling," Schumacher says, "but she just kept insisting I put Joel on the phone. When I wouldn't, she said, 'Oh, you're incompetent,' and hung up."

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