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Old 06-04-2003, 08:22 PM   #1
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Default Phone number causes 'Almighty' uproar

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Phone number causes 'Almighty' uproar
Thursday, May 29, 2003 Posted: 1:39 PM EDT (1739 GMT)

TAMPA, Florida (AP) -- A lot of mortals who happen to share God's telephone number -- or at least the one He uses in the new movie "Bruce Almighty" -- have spent days now taking calls from curious dialers, snickering cranks and desperate souls.

In the hit movie, a TV newsman played by Jim Carrey is endowed by God with divine powers, allowing him to perform such feats as parting a bowl of tomato soup like the Red Sea. God's phone number is repeatedly displayed on the newsman's pager whenever the Lord tries to summon him.

Usually, movies and TV shows use the telephone exchange 555, which is not used for homes and businesses. But "Bruce Almighty" used a seven-digit number valid in many parts of the country.

Many moviegoers have remembered the number and put it to work in their own area codes.

A woman in Pinellas Park, Florida, has threatened to sue the movie studio because of the 20 calls per hour clogging her cell phone. A Colorado radio network was getting dozens a day Wednesday, five days after the movie hit theaters, and is planning to build a contest around the phenomenon.

In Sanford, North Carolina, the listing belongs to a church whose minister is actually named Bruce. And he is not amused.

"It's a movie that mocks God and makes a mockery of religion," said the Rev. Bruce MacInnes, pastor of Turner's Chapel Church. "I'm not too thrilled with it at all. But the Lord God is one that could use something that's meant for evil and turn it around for good. So this may very well be the reason that that number showed up."

Universal Pictures, which produced the film, said in a statement Wednesday that the phone number was chosen because it does not exist in the Buffalo, New York, area, where the movie is set. The studio offered no further comment.

A database search turned up more than 30 listings nationwide for the number in the movie.

'God's messenger'
In Cornelia, Georgia, the number belongs to the Rev. Patrick Collington, an evangelist who runs Souls for Christ Ministries. His wife, Tracy, said they have gotten about 100 calls since Friday -- mostly people asking for God and hanging up -- but they are not bothered.

The family went to see the movie Tuesday night and loved it.

"It was funny, and knowing God's phone number was our number was really something to be excited about," she said.

Donna Augustin of Parrish, Florida, said her family has gotten about 200 God calls since Friday. Her three children think it is hilarious. A new message on their answering machine informs callers that they have reached "God's messenger" and should "call Jim Carrey" instead.

Some callers of the Augustin home leave messages ranging from sweet to obscene. Most try to come up with something funny. One guy wanted to know when God would answer his prayers and make him a porn star.

In Longmont, Colorado, the Colorado Radio Network's nine lines started lighting up Monday with God callers, a good number of whom actually seemed to think they found a direct line to the Lord, according to Ron Nickel, the network's senior vice president.

"God, I really need to talk to you," one woman said in a message. "I need to repent because I've cheated on my husband five times, but I guess all of us people who are prostitutes eventually cheat on our husbands."

Nickel said the network of five stations plans to turn the whole thing into a contest. Listeners will be asked what they would say to God if they could call Him. The host of the stations' only religious show will pick the winner.

"This just dropped right out of the sky into our lap," Nickel said. "We would have to be stupid to get angry."

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Old 06-04-2003, 08:46 PM   #2
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One of the people who has that problem lives in Concord, which is about 15 miles from my town. I think I would change my number ASAP.
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Old 06-05-2003, 01:17 AM   #3
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Originally posted by lizziemaguire
I think I would change my number ASAP.

I think I would start taking credit card numbers and go into the counseling business at $3.99 a minute
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Old 06-05-2003, 02:37 AM   #4
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I haven't seen the movie yet...what is the #?
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Old 06-05-2003, 05:48 AM   #5
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The BBC interviewed Ron Nickel -- the one quoted in the article. He said many people actually believe they are calling God, which is a bit worrying.

At first he tried playing along a bit. When one woman phoned up said, "Am I speaking to God," he said, "Yes, and you have five minutes left to live." She gasped and said, "What?" and he said, "Four minutes and forty-seven seconds." She panicked and hung up, since when he has decided to refrain from that sort of joke.

Similar story: In the days when telephones were brand new, and there were very few exchanges, the first rotary dials came out with specific instructions on how to dial. The phones that went on sale in Berlin had instructions that started like this:

"If you wish to dial, for example, the number 1243, proceed as follows..."

1243 was a number that was actually in existence, belonging to some factory warehouse or something. The managing director reportedly went mad.
Martin: Guys, there's a problem.
Carolyn: Then solve it.
Martin: I can't solve it.
Carolyn: Have you tried to solve it?
Martin: No.
Carolyn: Then you don't know if you can solve it, do you?
Martin: There's a civil war in Mali, so Timbuktu's closed to all air traffic.
Carolyn: Right, so you can't solve it. Douglas, can you solve it?

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