Hoax Museum Blog: Entertainment

Phone Numbers on TV — Normally whenever characters on TV shows or in movies give out phone numbers, they're fake. One of those '555' numbers. But the new trend seems to be to give out real numbers that people can actually dial up. For instance, on Scrubs the surgeon Chris Turk recently gave out his phone number: 916-CALL-TURK. If you call the number, you'll hear a message from one of the characters. Apparently a real number has also been given out on an episode of the Gilmore Girls.
Posted: Mon Nov 15, 2004.   Comments (24)

Decomposition TV — Reality TV has definitely sunk to a new low. Reuters reports that Channel 4 in Britain is considering televising a human corpse as it decomposes. They're currently searching for volunteers willing to donate their body after they die. This reminds me of two things. The See Me Rot Decomposition Cam, and also that theater group that held auditions to get someone to donate their corpse.
Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2004.   Comments (15)

Real-Life Truman Show — According to the Guardian, RTL2 TV in Germany is constructing an entire fake town outside of Hamburg which will provide the setting for their version of the Big Brother Reality TV show. It'll be just like a real-life version of The Truman Show. Residents of the artificial town will be filmed 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In addition, fans of the show will be able to visit the town "to see the residents just as if they were visiting a zoo." The German broadcasters say that the only difference between the premise of The Truman Show and their planned show, is that in their show "contestants will be willing participants in this next-generation leap into voyeurism." Then, in the next breath, they say, "We hope couples will get pregnant and family groups will interact with all the usual family frictions." So if a couple gets pregnant, will the child be given any choice about whether it wants to grow up monitored by TV viewers 24 hours a day?

Posted: Mon Oct 25, 2004.   Comments (10)

Ashlee Simpson Does a Milli Vanilli — I haven't watched Saturday Night Live in years, so I didn't witness Ashlee Simpson's 'Milli Vanilli moment' live when it happened, but I did see the clips which are downloadable from a number of sites (and check out this Benny Hill remix of it). Oddly enough, her record company is claiming that the goof-up (Ashlee's voice coming out of the speakers before she started singing) was not evidence of lip-synching or any other kind of vocal aid. They say what happened was simply a computer glitch. Right, and the tooth fairy is real. Ashlee Simpson herself is blaming the snafu on the band, even though the band members weren't even playing when the music started (she must be a joy to work with). My impression is that lip-synching is more of the norm than the exception nowadays, and personally it doesn't bother me. Musical performances have become such choreographed, dramatized events that it makes sense there would be a large element of acting involved in them.
Posted: Mon Oct 25, 2004.   Comments (17)


Game Show Sting — If you're a wanted criminal you may want to think twice about showing up to appear on a TV game show. British police created a fake game show, Great Big Giveaway Show, to which they invited twenty people on their wanted list. Seventeen of them were arrested. I guess no one can resist a chance to be on TV. (Thanks to Andrew Nixon for the link)
Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2004.   Comments (4)

Simpsons House Hoax — According to News.com.au an email has been circulating around Australia claiming that the town of South Morang has built a replica of the house where the Simpsons live. On the cartoon, Homer and Marge live on 742 Evergreen Terrace, and South Morang does have an Evergreen Drive. Apparently many Simpsons' fans have been spotted driving aimlessly around South Morang searching for the house. Unfortunately for these fans, the replica house doesn't exist. The email is a hoax. But if you're a Simpsons fan the place you should actually visit is Portland, Oregon, the boyhood home of Matt Groening, whose streets apparently inspired the names of many Simpsons characters.
Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2004.   Comments (16)

Life With Skippy — image From the Hoax Forum: Ever heard of Life With Skippy? It was an American television show that aired briefly in 1969 that featured "the misadventures of two small-town boys, the trouble-making Skippy and his sidekick Gummy." Unfortunately it got cancelled after only six episodes. Still don't remember it? Well, if you look around the internet you can find a surprising number of references to this hard-to-remember show. It's mentioned on message boards, there's a Yahoo Group devoted to its young star (who was later found dead in a brothel), there's a Life With Skippy website, and a website maintained by the actor Adam Felber who played Gummy. Plus, you can buy the hat worn by Skippy on eBay. Well, if you still can't remember the show the reason is that it never existed. It's the creation of a New York-based production company, Metropolis Entertainment, who are trying to promote a new sitcom they've developed called Life After Skippy, which is about the career of a down-on-his-luck former child actor (who once supposedly worked on Life With Skippy). Quite an elaborate guerrilla marketing campaign they've put together for this. You can view clips from the real show, Life After Skippy, on their site. Some of them are pretty funny.
Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2004.   Comments (15)

Return of the Jedi: New Ending — image Here's something that's causing serious Star Wars fans to roll their eyes in disgust. The rumor going around is that in the upcoming DVD release of the Star Wars series, George Lucas has altered the ending of Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) so that Hayden Christensen has replaced Sebastian Shaw in the final scene that shows the ghosts of Darth Vader, Yoda, and Obi wan Kenobi standing together. As some have pointed out, this doesn't make sense because why would Darth Vader's ghost be young, while the ghosts of Yoda and Obi wan are both old? Nevertheless, there's photographic evidence to back up the rumor, as well as a film clip hosted over at Waxy.org. If it's a hoax, someone has put a bit of effort into manufacturing these altered scenes.
Posted: Tue Aug 03, 2004.   Comments (129)

Clubbo.com — image Clubbo.com is definitely one of the most elaborate, in-depth hoax websites that I've ever come across. The attention to detail is astounding. The only site I can think of that rivals it in this respect would be Boilerplate, the Victorian Era Robot.

Clubbo.com purports to be the homepage of an indie record label that's been representing bizarre, one-hit (or in many cases, no-hit) wonders for decades. The fun thing is that they actually provide mp3 samples of all the artists, as well as tons of background material, so you can literally spend hours going through the site. My favorite parts so far: the Soda Pop Shop song by the 'Beethoven of Burps' Clipper Cowbridge, and the theme from The Spooky Bunch. Oh, and the link to their privacy policy is also worth clicking on.

I found out about Clubbo.com from an article in Slate by Paul Boutin that reveals it to be the just-launched fictional creation of Elise Malmberg and Joe Gore. Boutin links to a credits page on Clubbo.com that discloses the whole thing as a hoax, but just poking around the site on my own I couldn't figure out how he found this link to the credits. The Clubbo hoax also extends well beyond the confines of the Clubbo.com website. For instance, one of its bands, Action Plus, has its own website. And on eBay you can bid on a 'Clubbo: Guitar Pick used by Rockfinger's Tommy Lamb!!!!' (that looks an awful lot like the tab of a soda can). The starting bid is only $1999.99.
Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2004.   Comments (2)

Manchurian Global — At first glance, Manchurian Global looks like any other faceless corporation. Its website is full of corporate jargon about mission statements, international client bases, and holistic visions. But, of course, Manchurian Global isn't a real corporation. Its site is part of the advertising campaign for The Manchurian Candidate, which opens today. The illusion of reality that the site maintains is actually quite convincing. They've really made it look like a real company. Only until you dig far into the site do you arrive at suspicious stuff, such as a video showing one of their scientists, Dr. Atticus Noyle, talking about how they can control people's personalities at a genetic level. Paramount has been running an ad on my site for The Manchurian Candidate for the past two weeks, which I thought was pretty cool since I've always liked the original 1962 version of the movie starring Frank Sinatra. I'm hoping the new version can live up to the original.
Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2004.   Comments (23)

Sperm Race TV — Reality TV shows just keep getting weirder and weirder. The latest one being developed in Britain (unless it's all a hoax, like Lapdance Island or Quarantine) is Sperm Race TV, in which a group of guys get to compete for the prize of fathering a child. Two finalists are chosen, one chosen by the mother on the basis of romantic attraction, the other chosen by the show's producers on the basis of 'genetic compatibility' with the mother. The two guys will then compete in a sperm race, filmed with special fiber-optic cameras, to see whose sperm can inseminate the mother's egg first. To me this sounds hoaxy on a number of different levels. First of all, what do they mean by 'genetic compatibility'? I can understand you might want to screen to make sure two partners aren't harboring deadly recessive genes, but beyond that what exactly makes two people genetically compatible? Second, how exactly will they stage this 'sperm race'? I assume they'd have to introduce the two sperm samples at the exact same time into the woman to make it a fair race, but then how will they know which sperm belongs to which father? And finally, are they seriously contemplating getting the woman pregnant? Or will they abort the child? Either way, they're going to outrage a lot of people.
Posted: Sat Jul 24, 2004.   Comments (12)

Catwoman Beneath the Costume — image I like Halle Berry, but I don't have any plans to see Catwoman (it just doesn't look that interesting). And anyway, turns out it isn't even Halle in that costume. It's some guy called Nito Larioza wearing red lipstick. Maybe Nito is also Mr. Six! You never know.
Posted: Tue Jul 20, 2004.   Comments (1)

Blairwitching and the Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan — image Five years ago the Blair Witch Project became a multi-million dollar box-office sensation thanks to a clever marketing scheme that pretended the Blair Witch was real (and offered a spooky companion website filled with pseudo historical background about her). Ever since then movie marketers have latched onto the concept of promoting movies via hoaxes. So much so, that I think we should just begin referring to the practice of promoting movies by hoaxing the public as 'Blairwitching'. For instance, a sample sentence using this term might be: Failing to think of any original way to promote their movie, the marketing team simply decided to Blairwitch it.

The latest movie to be Blairwitched is the Sci-Fi Channel's documentary about filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan (The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan) that aired last night. The Sci-Fi Channel's marketing team promoted the movie by promising that it was going to reveal a secret buried in Shyamalan's past, a secret that had driven him towards his obsession with the supernatural. Supposedly Shyamalan didn't want this secret exposed, which caused him to stop cooperating with the documentary team. This conflict between Shyamalan and his biographers managed to garner a fair bit of press. But then yesterday, when the documentary aired, the Sci-Fi Channel admitted that they simply invented Shymalan's buried secret as well as Shyamalan's disagreement with them (the big secret was supposed to be that he once witnessed a drowning).

I like the line in this article about the hoax campaign where NBC executives (NBC owns the Sci-Fi Channel) apologize, saying that "We would never intend to offend the public or the press and value our relationship with both." Yeah, right. Meanwhile, they're happy to accept all the publicity that the hoax generated (including having people like me write about it on their weblogs). And oh yeah, the hoax itself and the documentary were ultimately all big advertisements for Shyamalan's upcoming movie The Village, which actually looks kind of cool. (Thanks to Terry in the hoax forum for giving a heads up about this)
Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2004.   Comments (13)

The Plucking Rainbow Orgy — image Viewers of British tv might remember Rainbow, a children's show starring the puppet characters Bungle, Zippy, and George, and hosted by Geoffrey Hayes. Recently a movie has been circulating around the web (you can also see it here) purporting to show an episode of Rainbow that's heavily, heavily laced with sexual innuendo. Way too much innuendo to possibly be accidental. It's been dubbed the 'Rainbow Plucking Orgy' tape. It's very funny, but is it real? Was it ever really broadcast? According to the Planet Gromit site, the tape is real, but it never aired. It was created as a joke and was not meant to see the light of day. I have no idea how it's surfaced now.
Posted: Wed Jul 14, 2004.   Comments (17)

Fight Club, The Musical — Playbill is reporting that Chuck Palahniuk's hyper-masculine novel Fight Club (which was made into a movie starring Edward Norton) may come to the stage as a musical. This news was reported by Palahniuk himself at a recent book reading. But still, it's raised a few skeptical eyebrows. After all, musicals tend not to be the first thing that spring to mind when you think of manliness and bare-knuckled boxing. What's next: Fight Club, the Ice Ballet? Fight Club, the Synchronized Swimming Version? Nevertheless, Ain't It Cool News thinks the rumor is true, so perhaps it is. Or maybe Palahniuk was just pulling everyone's leg.
Posted: Fri Jul 02, 2004.   Comments (5)

Fastest Man in Japan — image I found this email today in my inbox:
This e-mail from Japan. Please write about me in your paper. I am the fastest man in Japan. I put off clothes in about one second. You can see me. Click here. http://www.joqr.co.jp/bbqr/56bakuhatsu2.asx
Japanese people can watch me in TV. I want world people to watch me. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.Thank you.
Itabasi-ku 2-14-17, Tokyo, OfficeHERA, Jun Nagatani

Of course, I couldn't resist checking that out. Sure enough, he does remove his clothes in less than a second (it's safe for work). There must be some trick to it. Clothing designed to be ripped away would be the most obvious thing.
Posted: Mon Jun 28, 2004.   Comments (5)

To Hermione on her 18th Birthday — image Donald Nyffington, 37-year-old UNIX programmer, is in love. He's in love with Hermione Granger... or rather with Emma Watson who plays Hermione in the Harry Potter movies. And Emma, unfortunately for Donald, is only 14. So he's started the 'Official Countdown Website to Hermione Granger's 18th Birthday.' The site is convincing enough that you really might start to believe that Donald and his unrequited passion for Hermione are for real. But they're not. The picture on Donald's 'About Me' page gives it away. It comes from an old Onion article titled 'Creepy Middle-Aged Weirdos Swept Up In Harry Potter Craze.' (via Scattered Pieces)
Posted: Wed Jun 23, 2004.   Comments (6)

Airplane in Troy — image From the Hoax Forum: Gutza has submitted this suspicious goof from the movie Troy, which shows an airplane flying behind Brad Pitt (Achilles) as he stands in front of the Temple of Apollo. I saw this movie just a week ago, and I don't remember seeing a plane in that scene. You'd think it would have been pretty obvious. More significantly, the movie sleuths over at moviemistakes.com don't seem to have noted this either, even though I'm sure they'd be falling all over themselves to point it out if it actually was there. The picture, of course, could be a still from the set. But it's most likely just photoshopped.
Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004.   Comments (4)

Citizens for a Murder-Free America — This is an old site, but I hadn't seen it before. It pretends to be the homepage of a lobbying group called 'Citizens for a Murder-Free America' who are campaigning for passage of 'Precrime' legislation that will help stop murders before they happen. In reality, the site is part of the publicity campaign for Steven Spielberg's movie Minority Report, which was about a future society where the police use psychics to see into the future and tell them about murders before they happen (based on a Philip K. Dick short story). It was a pretty good movie.


Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2004.   Comments ()

Seance Hoax — On Monday illusionist Derren Brown performed a seance live on Britain's Channel 4, successfully channeling the spirit of 'Jane,' the victim of a mass suicide. Only after the show did he admit it was all a hoax... an attempt to debunk seances by showing how easily people can be manipulated into believing that they're real. Still, the show managed to attract more complaints than almost any other show in British history, although most of the complaints were lodged before the show aired (evidently because those complaining... church groups mostly... had seen into the future and knew they wouldn't like it before they saw it). Darren Brown is the same guy who pretended to play Russian Roulette on British TV back in October 2003. But for my money, it doesn't sound like Brown's faux-seance quite rivalled the drama of 1992's Ghostwatch Halloween seance.
Posted: Thu Jun 03, 2004.   Comments (6)

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