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REEL LIFE

Editors take swings at calls from left field

ON NOV. 27, THE BACKLOT COLUMN centered on unintentionally humorous phone conversations that reporters had taken part in during the past year. Anita M. Busch and other Daily Variety journalists related such anecdotes as a worker at CAA who had no idea who Martin Scorsese is, or William Morris employees who’d never heard of Jack Lemmon and Arnold Rifkin.

The day the column appeared, someone from UTA called to complain, “You’ve got the whole agency up in arms here. We’re very upset that there were no quotes here from UTA. We feel very omitted.”

That was followed by several more calls from that agency’s workers, all of them seriously upset. The message to Daily Variety was clear: If you’re going to make fun of big agencies, make sure we’re included.

Hoping to match the reporters, here are snippets from calls that editors have received in the last 12 months. And let us apologize in advance: If you called us with a stupid comment or question and you’re not quoted here – we hope you won’t feel, as they say at UTA, very omitted. Happy New Year.

Caller: “Hello, I’m calling from Massachusetts, where am I talking to?”

Editor: “This is Los Angeles.”

Caller: “Omigod, how’d I get this number? Anyway, don’t worry, I am legitimate, here’s what I want to know: How can I get in touch with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward?”

“Could I speak with someone in your Hispanic department?”

Caller: “I have some information about cable. Who should I send a press release to?”

Editor: “Send it to Ray Richmond: R-I-C-H-M-O-N-D.”

Caller: “Thanks. Could you spell his last name for me?”

“Who is your house and medical editor?”

‘I’M HOPING YOU CAN HELP ME. A friend of mine is an actress with a very interesting life, and I took a marketing class and was told if I paid money to a paper, they would write a story.”

8:15 p.m.:

Caller: “Could you tell me where Lynda Obst is speaking tonight?”

Editor: “I have no idea.”

Caller: “Oh, because I bought a ticket and I sent in my check, and it’s tonight, but I forgot to ask what time or where it is. Do you think it might be at a theater or a bookstore and, if so, which one?”

“I sent in a press release yesterday, but I forgot to include the time, the ticket price and the phone number people could call for information.”

Caller: “Do you have a religion editor?”

Editor: “We cover show business, which is the opposite of religion.”

Caller: “Do you ever use color pictures on the first page of your announcements?”

Editor: “What do you mean by ‘announcements’?”

Caller: “When you announce a deal on the front page.”

Editor: “Oh, stories. sometimes we use color photos.”

Caller: “And how much would that cost us?”

Editor: “Cost you?”

Caller: “If we sent in a color photo for you to use, how much would that cost us?”

Caller: “My name is (withheld). I sent a press release yesterday to someone at your paper, I can’t remember who. Did you receive it?”

Editor: “I need more information. What was the press release about?”

Caller: “It was about a promotion.”

Editor: “I need more information. What kind of a company are you?”

Caller: “It’s my own company.”

‘I WAS GIVEN THIS NUMBER for news stories. I have something that might interest you. Senator Dole was ordered by my father to step down from his job, and the people in the Senate were ordered to applaud. And all the news programs were told to show this. I’m assuming we have a whole bunch of people who do ‘face recognition,’ they’re crawling around. But I live in Naples, Florida, and I work for a company that is under-budgeted so that doesn’t happen much. I hope this amuses you and let me know what assumptions you make.”

– A message from a woman who identified herself as Faye Dunaway (“That’s one of the names the industry has dubbed me with.”)

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