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ANNALS OF CELEBRITY

Hey, E.T., they can make that call

August 17, 2003|Carolyn Patricia Scott

In a crowded Hollywood firmament where stars are minted weekly, how does one keep one's name current and the fan base sated?

Get on the phone. A new Web site -- www.hollywoodiscalling.com -- puts celebrities (think the Lorenzo Lamas and Barbi twins layer of fame) on the line, delivering live calls to anyone willing to pay $19.95 to have them offer a happy birthday wish, or surprise a fan with a friendly hello.

"It's all the brainchild of owner-creator John Surowy," says Web site spokesman Michael Stevens. "We've been operating for 1 1/2 months and we've already gotten 200,000 hits."

"We even offer customized service for $29.95 -- you can have a star propose for you, offer an apology or deliver any message that isn't crude or offensive," Stevens elaborates.

Not a bad deal, really. In this celebrity-driven world, why not create a business that allows anyone to get their 15 minutes of proximity to fame -- or at least their 45 seconds to scream in Todd Bridges' ear? Bridges, one of the site's roughly two-dozen stars, recalls one recipient's reaction. "Her friend said she'd always been a fan and she really was!"

A father whose son's bike had been stolen had actor Lou Ferrigno call to cheer the kid up. Of course, therein lies the rub. Not every star finds the $19.95 phone call business appealing. If Bridges ("Diff'rent Strokes") and Ferrigno (TV's "Hulk") will do the trick for your loved one, you're in luck. But once you get past them and names like Andrea Thompson ("NYPD Blue") and Fred "Rerun" Berry, you've just about exhausted the service's celebrity depths.

Chances are, it'll be a while before you can order up Denzel Washington or Reese Witherspoon. Still, a call from "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch? Imagine the thrill.

-- Carolyn Patricia Scott

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