Moviefone, as part of an overhaul to its 25-year-old brand, has a new spokesman: Kevin Thompson, a TV host who’s been named the new “Mr. Moviefone.”
Thompson, former warm-up man for “The Wendy Williams Show” and current host of BET’s “Claim to Fame” game show, beat out several hundred other hopefuls in the running to be the next Mr. or Ms. Moviefone, after the AOL-owned entertainment info and ticketing service issued an open casting call this fall.
“Truth be told, I’m just a kid from Brooklyn, trying to make his mother proud,” Thompson said. “For years, she’s told me to shut up — now, I think she’s proud I never did.”
Thompson’s selection as Mr. Moviefone caps AOL’s year-long rebranding effort for the service. The Internet company teamed with production company Whalerock Industries (formerly BermanBraun) to relaunch the Moviefone website and apps, which now encompass movies and TV shows with info spanning theaters, television and online. That came as AOL shut down Moviefone’s iconic 777-FILM phone service this spring.
The original Mr. Moviefone — Russ Leatherman, who co-founded Moviefone in 1989 — parted ways with AOL last December. His peppy trademark greeting (“Hello, and welcome to Moviefone!”) was memorably spoofed in an episode of “Seinfeld.” Leatherman now hosts Six-Second Reviews, which are syndicated to TV and radio stations across the country and entertainment website HitFix.
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“Mr. Moviefone was such an iconic voice, and to carry the torch of such a personality is a big challenge,” Moviefone g.m. Sharon Kopp said.
Thompson’s combination of hosting experience and his passion for movies and TV made him stand out as the total package for the gig, she said. “Kevin has charisma, charm and a smile that lights up the screen,” said Kopp, who prior to joining Moviefone in May 2014 was Viacom’s VP of digital distribution.
The two other finalists who were in the running to be the next Mr. or Ms. Moviefone were Chloe West, a host for online network AfterBuzz TV, and Justin Nichols, who’s worked with TMZ and AfterBuzz TV.
Thompson will be a presence on Moviefone’s digital services, and he’ll also rep the brand in red-carpet appearances, interviews, movie and TV reviews, live appearances and on social media.
Watch Thompson’s Moviefone audition reel from September: