Kathy Crump

Stars lend their voices to commercials

The next voice you hear could be…Lily Tomlin for Microsoft? Yes, the world’s most famous switchboard operator is one of the latest Hollywood stars to lend her larynx to television ads — joining such veteran voice — over artists as Donald Sutherland (Volvo), Jack Lemmon (Honda), and Tommy Lee Jones (Red Dog beer). For the stars, money is still the primary incentive: Five- and six-figure paychecks are now the norm for a few hours’ work. For Madison Avenue, such celebrated voices heighten the hard sell.

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Celebs loaning their voices to commercials

Just because you don’t see celebrities endorsing products, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. An increasing number of actors are taking a more subtle approach to selling, by doing voice-overs. ”Two days don’t go by where I don’t get a letter or phone call from agents trying to sell a celebrity as a voice-over,” says Larry Kopald of the Foote, Cone & Belding ad agency in Los Angeles. Industry insiders say celebs can earn up to $500,000 (the fee United Airlines reportedly pays Gene Hackman for his spots). But what’s in it for advertisers?

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Gaffes on ''Northern Exposure''

Sometimes even the directors of a quality show like Northern Exposure fail to film an important transition shot or angle, and, says coproducer Martin Bruestle, ”by the time we realize that we are missing it, we’re already filming one or two episodes down the line.” In those cases, says Bruestle, they resort to what he cheerfully calls ”the magic of editing.” We call it covering up your goofs and hoping nobody notices. ”Sometimes we get busted,” admits Bruestle. Herewith, a couple of notable gaffes we caught this season.

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Meet Lance Luria

His training at French and Mexican medical schools fuels Going to Extremes. His residency inspired St. Elsewhere. And when he left Manhattan to practice medicine in a remote area of New York, the move spawned Northern Exposure. The man whose iconoclastic life has ricocheted through all three medical series created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey is Brand’s childhood friend Lance Luria, ”one of the few people,” says Brand, ”with the courage and humor to live his life off the beaten track. Some people have fish stories. I have Lance stories.

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