How A Magic Cell Phone Changed A Former ESPN Cameraman’s Life
"Bob Gray was just an ordinary guy from Cleveland ... before a cell phone made him an unlikely celebrity."
If that sounds like the tagline for a movie, that's because it could very well end up becoming one.
An aspiring director, screenwriter and actor, Gray moved back to Southern California from Cleveland after LeBron James jumped ship to Miami, sinking the Cavaliers' national TV contract — and with it Gray's job as a director and assistant director of live basketball broadcasts. He had previously served as a cameraman and director for ESPN, FOX, and NBA TV Cleveland, as well.
Once in L.A., Gray went to purchase a local cell phone, and — as fate would have it — ended up inheriting the recently retired number of a relatively famous and seemingly well-connected actor-comedian.
It wasn't long before Gray started getting inundated with texts inviting him to Hollywood parties, restaurant openings, and Laker games. There were "Go Celtics" messages and the occasional "Hey douchebag."
Using this case of mistaken identity to his advantage, Gray finagled an invite for him and his girlfriend to Paris Hilton's 30th birthday bash — and then again to another Paris-hosted party at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where they rubbed shoulders with a D-list All Star tag team made up of Andy Dick and David Arquette.
Another incoming text — this time from Kevin Nealon, of Saturday Night Live fame — offered him 10 minutes on stage at the Laugh Factory. When Gray called and explained the situation, Nealon laughed hysterically and said he should write a screenplay documenting the whole experience. So did Dave Rath, a prominent comedy talent manager who contacted the retired number.
Gray and writing partner Adam Jones are well under way on that project. Gray also is working with independent casting director/producer Roxane Davis and the Gersh Agency on potential projects relating to his story.
Gray got calls and texts from theatrical agents, other entertainment-industry gatekeepers and established comedians, all of which he diligently forwarded to the intended party.
One time, he recognized the voice on the other end as that of Adam Sandler, who got a kick out of some of Gray's stories and then called him "a good egg."
And then one day Gray answered the phone while driving. "Hey," asked the voice. "How do you like living my life?"
The phone number's one-time owner, who remains anonymous in order to preserve Gray's newfound celebrity connections, isn't angry and even promised to meet Gray for dinner sometime, though it hasn't happened yet.
You know, Mark Twain once said "The clothes make the man." While that may have held true in the 19th century, in 2011, it's apparently the cell phone number that makes the man.
[via Bob's Blitz]
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