Who is Rance? —
The latest buzz in the blogosphere is about the weblog of 'Rance
,' an anonymous blogger who claims to be a well-known, A-list, Hollywood celebrity. Or as he coyly puts it on his weblog, "I can tell you what it's like to see your picture on the magazine rack every now and again when you pay for groceries."
For a couple of months he's been dishing up dirt on life in Hollywood, and he's succeeded in attracting a huge following. He even got interviewed (anonymously) by Reuters
last week. But of course, he won't reveal who he is... which just makes everyone crazy to find out the secret. Is Rance really a celebrity, or is he just an average schmuck pretending to be a celebrity?
There have been quite a few theories about his identity. Xeni Jardin, over at BoingBoing posted a rumor that he was Owen Wilson
, though she conceded he could just as easily be George Clooney or Mr. Potato Head. The Defamer weblog posted a clever theory
from one of their readers that an LA-based ad agency named Butler, Shine, Stern, and Partners
is secretly behind Rance's weblog. Their reasoning was that Rance's url is captainhoof.tripod.com, and the ad agency has a mascot called Captain Hoofers. Defamer also has suggested that Rance is really Ben Affleck
, because Rance once made a reference to the initials 'OV,' and Ben has 'OV' tattooed on his back (seems like a bit of a stretch to me).
Anyway, I got hooked by the mystery and decided to see if I could find out anything about the identity of Rance, and I now have a lead suspect of my own. I think Rance is a cartoonist/filmmaker/screenwriter named Keith Thomson.
Here's my reasoning. What immediately struck me about Rance's weblog was that it attracted a very high number of comments from very early on. Within two hours after Rance posted his first entry
on December 29, 2003, four people had left comments on his site. Most weblogs, by contrast, struggle to get anyone to read them, let alone leave comments. So how was he attracting so many visitors to his site straight off the bat?
What I discovered was that immediately after Rance posted his first entry on Dec. 29 at 4:49 EST, someone going by the screen name 'InvaderFromPluto' began posting messages about his weblog on various fan discussion groups. For instance, at 5:52, about one hour after Rance had posted his first entry, a message from InvaderFromPluto
appears on Yahoo's thematthewperryplace message board. It reads:
i read slate reported a famous tv actor keeping a weblog under
pseudonym "rance" at http://captainhoof.tripod.com/blog/
it's hard to know if it is him, but it might be as it is funny and
seems witty in his sort of way
Obviously Slate hadn't written anything about Rance's weblog. Rance's weblog, at that time, was only an hour old. So how did InvaderFromPluto know about Rance's weblog so quickly, and why was he so interested in promoting it? Perhaps InvaderFromPluto was Rance himself. Makes sense to me.
InvaderFromPluto can be found promoting Rance's weblog in other discussion groups. Here he is with the same message over at HugeHughGrantFans
So how can we find out who InvaderFromPluto is? A simple Google search
revealed that throughout 2002 and 2003 InvaderFromPluto was busy
on various message boards promoting
the cartoon work of Keith Thomson. He even promoted what seems to be an early Keith Thomson hoax
: an online petition
trying to stop Britney Spears's lawyers from suing him (even though Spears's lawyers don't seem to have had any intention to sue him).
So I think it's very likely that InvaderFromPluto is Keith Thomson (who else would be so tirelessly promoting his work). Therefore, by extension, Keith Thomson is also Rance. To put it in mathematical form: Rance = InvaderFromPluto = Keith Thomson.
Or, if Rance isn't Keith Thomson, then, at the very least, Thomson seems to be involved somehow.
Here's a bio of Keith Thomson
from the atomfilms site:
Keith Thomson played a season of semi-professional baseball in Europe before becoming a political cartoonist for New York Newsday. His work appeared in many other publications, including GQ and Howard Stern's book Miss America. His short film, "Cupidity," played at Sundance and can now be seen on Atomshockwave. He has since written feature film screenplays for Imagine, Paramount and Sony. He also wrote for Bill Plympton's animated MTV show, "Helter Shelter." Thomson is represented by Nick Reed of ICM.
So Thomson is a guy who knows Hollywood. Plus he has a sense of humor. Sounds a lot like Rance to me.
Update: David Emery
just emailed me some more evidence linking Keith Thomson to Rance. Check out the
screen name ("Captain Hoof") on this 2002 newsgroup post
that links to a Keith Thomson video.
Another theory to consider is that the person using the screen name InvaderFromPluto wasn't Keith Thomson. It could have been Thomson's agent at ICM, Nick Reed (Reed gets a 'co-created by' credit on Thomson's films, so he would be just as likely to promote the films as Thomson). If this is the case, then Rance could be Nick Reed. Or he could be one of Reed's other clients.
I just posted some second thoughts
about the Keith Thomson/Rance connection. I still think Thomson is a prime suspect, but I'm not 100% sure.