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Daily Variety article

This is in today's "Daily Variety."


"Prison Producers Phoning It In
by Joesf Adalian

The producers of 'Prison Break' are taking interactive TV to a whole new level.

In recent weeks, as the show worked up to Monday night's fall finale, viewers might have noticed that a cell-phone number used by character Nika Volek (Holly Valance) wasn't of the typical '555' variety. Instead, it was a working phone number, (312) 909-3529. When called by viewers, it leads to a cryptic voicemail message from Luca.

Earlier in the season, producers also dropped an actual email address used by another character, LJ Burrows (Marshall Allman). Send an email to the address- and you'll get a coded response back.

'Both were easy ways to reach out to fans,' said 'Prison Break' supervising producer Nick Santora, who came up with the idea to use a real cell-phone number. 'I bounced the idea off of ('Break's showrunners) to help bring the show even more into a real world.' Santora said. 'People just picked up on it and it's been a firestorm.'

Indeed, viewers have been leaving all sorts of messages on the voicemail, sometimes even in character as fictional associates of the show's fictional characters. Writers and producers often listen to the voicemails while at work.

'It's bizarre, to say the least, but we get kick out of it,' Santora said.

Producers of Fox's '24'- which, like 'Prison Break,' is from 20th Century Fox TV- had fun with phone numbers last season, incorporating real digits into the storyline. In that case, however, the number was simply that of a production assistant and wasn't tied to characters of the show.

Santora said viewers might want to keep calling the number over the next few months. 'We're going to be changing the message and give out tidbits of information about things that will happen in future episodes and season two,' he said.

Meanwhile, FOx gave out this tidbit to viewers last night in its on-air promo: 'Prison Break' will return for the second half of its season in March. There had been speculation the show wouldn't be back until May, but Fox apparently decided to spare viewers a few months of cliffhanger agony."
11/29/05

Tags: cell phone, variety
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