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Dieter Jerrentrup

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Jul 5, 1993, 2:44:39 AM7/5/93
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Last Saturday I saw here in Germany a movie called "Starkstrom" (I don't
know the original title). It's a movie from 1981 (Canada) with Richard
Chamberlain where he is hunting a man who kills people by phonecalls with
high-voltage.

With this movie a peculiarity of North-American (US and Canadian) movies
was back in my mind.

In all movies (or soaps) the phonenumbers starts with 555. From ALF
to BASIC INSTINCT there are always numbers mentioned which starts with 555.

Is it a running gag of the authors ?

Or is it perhaps a running gag of the authors who dub it for Germany ?

Maybe it's a legal area code. But I can't believe that all the people
which are called up in these movies live in the same town :-)

Or is it a law made by justice to prevent people with same numbers ?
(this presuppose that no real number with 555... exists)

Or what else ... ?

Can anybody help me ?

TIA
Dieter


==============================================================================
Dieter Jerrentrup email: die...@geibn26.uucp
CAP debis GEI voice: +49 228 72902 52
Oxfordstr. 12-16 fax: +49 228 72902 60
53111 Bonn
Germany
==============================================================================

elpo...@indyvax.iupui.edu

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Jul 5, 1993, 1:49:14 PM7/5/93
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Phone numbers in movies have begun with the prefix 555 since movies with
modern telephones in them began being shot. By "modern," I mean that years ago
in the U.S., you couldn't just pick up a phone and dial it. You had to have
the assistance of a telephone operator who would connect you to "the party to
whom you were speaking" (famous Lily Tomlin Laugh-In line). You'd just pick up
the phone and tell the operator the name or address of the person you wanted to
talk to.

The 555 prefix is not really a running gag. It's just that (as far as I know)
NO telephone numbers in the United States (other than the 800 information
directory service - 1-800-555-1212) begin with the numbers 555.

I would imagine this fictional phone prefix was first developed so that when a
number was spoken in a film, the audience wouldn't later call that number to
see who it belonged to.

As you can imagine, this coincidence might cost the movie company a lot of
money in lawsuits if peoples' phone numbers were inadvertently broadcasted, and
these people were to receive a lot of phone calls. Would probably be considered
harassment.

That's my theory, anyway, and I imagine it will stand pretty well until someone
replies who has a telephone number that begins with 555.

--Eric

John S. Smith

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Jul 5, 1993, 2:44:11 PM7/5/93
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die...@geibn26.UUCP (Dieter Jerrentrup) writes:
> In all movies (or soaps) the phonenumbers starts with 555. From ALF
> to BASIC INSTINCT there are always numbers mentioned which starts with 555.
> Is it a running gag of the authors ?
> Or is it perhaps a running gag of the authors who dub it for Germany ?
> Maybe it's a legal area code. But I can't believe that all the people
> which are called up in these movies live in the same town :-)
> Or is it a law made by justice to prevent people with same numbers ?
> (this presuppose that no real number with 555... exists)

Pretty close...there are no telephone numbers in the United States that
begin with 555 (other than Directory Information); while it is not a law,
it is a reasonable precaution, to protect the filmmakers from irate
citizens whose phone numbers might be used in a film. There are
exceptions: I don't recall the film (can anyone help?), but in at least one
instance a Director worked with AT&T to arrive at a telephone number that
won't be assigned for several years; the "authenticity" of the number was not
crucial to the film, but obviously was important to the Director. Let's
face it, every time we hear or see "555-" it registers false.
--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John Stephen Smith
joh...@eis.calstate.edu "Easy to use" is easy to say.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim Ratliff

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Jul 5, 1993, 3:53:52 PM7/5/93
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In article <1993Jul5.1...@indyvax.iupui.edu>,

elpo...@indyvax.iupui.edu wrote:
>
>
> The 555 prefix is not really a running gag. It's just that (as far as I know)
> NO telephone numbers in the United States (other than the 800 information
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

> directory service - 1-800-555-1212) begin with the numbers 555.
>

The number for directory information for ANY area code is (xxx)555-1212.
___
|
\_|IM

Merlyn LeRoy

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Jul 5, 1993, 4:33:17 PM7/5/93
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In "Helpmates", Stan Laurel used his real phone number (OXford-0614).
It's printed on his personal checks from that time.
Older movies would sometimes use KLondike-5-xxxx, which is the
same as 555-xxxx, or Zenith-x-xxxx, which can't be dialed.

---
Merlyn LeRoy

sst...@drew.drew.edu

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Jul 5, 1993, 6:59:54 PM7/5/93
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--

555- is used because it is not a real phone exchange. That way
people (especially children) cannot attempt to call the people that
they see on the phone or on TV.


Nicholas Monitto

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Jul 5, 1993, 11:17:27 PM7/5/93
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However, to bring this off on a different thread, the film "Sneakers" had a
phone number in it at one point which did not use the 555-xxxx format. To avoid
dropping a spoiler (and because my memory is a bit foggy), I won't say what it
was or where it fell in the film.

Those of us who saw it in my area (Troy/Albany/capital district New York)
thought it was interesting because the exchange used was possibly one from our
area (though we haven't yet confirmed this). The film was also fun because one
of our local news anchors had a cameo role, but that's a story for another
thread entirely...


--
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."
-Steven Wright
John F. Kennedy..Gary Hart..Bill Clinton..Democrats do make better lovers. :)
Nick Monitto (mon...@rpi.edu)

Laura F. Jenkins

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Jul 6, 1993, 3:36:33 PM7/6/93
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The actual rule for use of telephone numbers in theatrical and television
productions is 555- followed by the digits 2-9 except the number 555-4545 may not be used. In reality, other numbers are used ocassionally and at times
have caused problems for both studios and the unfortunates with those
numbers.


--
*************************************************************************
Aliskye MacKyven Raizel "Timing Is Everything"
ali...@netcom.com

David Hoffman

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Jul 6, 1993, 8:11:30 PM7/6/93
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When I saw Sneakers, I was very surprised to hear them give a "real-sounding"
phone number - they even mentioned the area code. I called the number,
because it was local. It was an in-service number - someone's voice
mail. I wonder if anyone got in trouble for using it in the film.

Robert Mitchell

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Jul 5, 1993, 4:40:40 PM7/5/93
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In article <23...@geibn26.UUCP> die...@geibn26.UUCP (Dieter Jerrentrup) writes:
>In all movies (or soaps) the phonenumbers starts with 555. From ALF
>to BASIC INSTINCT there are always numbers mentioned which starts with 555.
>
> Is it a running gag of the authors ?
>
> Or is it perhaps a running gag of the authors who dub it for Germany ?
>
> Maybe it's a legal area code. But I can't believe that all the people
> which are called up in these movies live in the same town :-)

555 begins the phone number for movies in English in North America.
Its not a gag. It's probably so that real people with phone number X
don't get hassled by people who hear phone number X in movies.

555 is not a legal area code, which is the reason why it is used.


/Rob

Zap Savage

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Jul 6, 1993, 11:53:45 AM7/6/93
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In <23...@geibn26.UUCP>, die...@geibn26.UUCP (Dieter Jerrentrup) writes:
> With this movie a peculiarity of North-American (US and Canadian) movies
> was back in my mind.

> In all movies (or soaps) the phonenumbers starts with 555. From ALF
> to BASIC INSTINCT there are always numbers mentioned which starts with 555.

Not quite all. I have heard prefixes used other than 555, but not very
frequently.

> Is it a running gag of the authors ?

Well, no, not those particular authors. There are no prefixes in my area that
use 555. I've never heard of any 555 prefix. I think the phone company
reserved those for either fictional phone numbers so people wouldn't get calls
based on movies (a little silly, I think. Who would call a phone number from
a movie?) or the phone system didn't allow it when designed and they've simply
kept it that way.

Zap
---
Zap Savage, Savage Research, Inc.
"When I'm playful I use the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude
for a seine, and drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales. I scratch my head with
the lightning and purr myself to sleep with the thunder."
- Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain

Jacob Steen Due

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Jul 7, 1993, 4:20:37 AM7/7/93
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joh...@eis.calstate.edu (John S. Smith) writes:

>die...@geibn26.UUCP (Dieter Jerrentrup) writes:
>> In all movies (or soaps) the phonenumbers starts with 555. From ALF
>> to BASIC INSTINCT there are always numbers mentioned which starts with 555.
>> Is it a running gag of the authors ?
>> Or is it perhaps a running gag of the authors who dub it for Germany ?
>> Maybe it's a legal area code. But I can't believe that all the people
>> which are called up in these movies live in the same town :-)
>> Or is it a law made by justice to prevent people with same numbers ?
>> (this presuppose that no real number with 555... exists)

>Pretty close...there are no telephone numbers in the United States that
>begin with 555 (other than Directory Information); while it is not a law,
>it is a reasonable precaution, to protect the filmmakers from irate
>citizens whose phone numbers might be used in a film. There are
>exceptions: I don't recall the film (can anyone help?), but in at least one
>instance a Director worked with AT&T to arrive at a telephone number that
>won't be assigned for several years; the "authenticity" of the number was not
>crucial to the film, but obviously was important to the Director. Let's
>face it, every time we hear or see "555-" it registers false.
>--

And a quote from "Ford Fairlane"

"Hey ! Wait a minute 555's not a real number - They only use that in the
movies"
"Well what do you think this is - real life ???"

/Jacob

Melanie Arabsky

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Jul 7, 1993, 12:42:33 PM7/7/93
to
In article <aliskyeC...@netcom.com> ali...@netcom.com (Laura F. Jenkins) writes:
>
>The actual rule for use of telephone numbers in theatrical and television
>productions is 555- followed by the digits 2-9 except the number 555-4545 may not be used. In reality, other numbers are used ocassionally and at times
>have caused problems for both studios and the unfortunates with those
>numbers.
>
Does anyone remember that song "867-5309 Jenny" where the singer
repeats "Jenny's" phone number (876-5309) over & over (it was part of
the chorus). I remember reading about an old guy who had never heard
of the song but had that number (there may be more than one in diff
area codes) getting all kinds of rude propositions... In the article
he just shrugged it off but was quite tired of it.
--
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
No better mask than truth to cover lies/As to be naked is the best disguise.
-William Congreve
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

M15...@mwvm.mitre.org

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Jul 7, 1993, 4:23:34 PM7/7/93
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In article <9...@savage.UUCP>

z...@savage.UUCP (Zap Savage) writes:

>
>In <23...@geibn26.UUCP>, die...@geibn26.UUCP (Dieter Jerrentrup) writes:
>> With this movie a peculiarity of North-American (US and Canadian) movies
>> was back in my mind.
>
>> In all movies (or soaps) the phonenumbers starts with 555. From ALF
>> to BASIC INSTINCT there are always numbers mentioned which starts with 555.
>Not quite all. I have heard prefixes used other than 555, but not very
>frequently.
>
>> Is it a running gag of the authors ?
>
>Well, no, not those particular authors. There are no prefixes in my area that
>use 555. I've never heard of any 555 prefix. I think the phone company
>reserved those for either fictional phone numbers so people wouldn't get calls
>based on movies (a little silly, I think. Who would call a phone number from
>a movie?) or the phone system didn't allow it when designed and they've simply
>kept it that way.

555 is used because it is for long distance information (in the USA). Put any
area code, 555, any four numbers together and you get long distance information
for that area code.

Mary Brick
e-mail: m15...@mitre.org

Lawrence C Smith

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Jul 7, 1993, 5:42:57 PM7/7/93
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In article <9...@savage.UUCP>, z...@savage.UUCP (Zap Savage) writes:
>In <23...@geibn26.UUCP>, die...@geibn26.UUCP (Dieter Jerrentrup) writes:
>> In all movies (or soaps) the phonenumbers starts with 555. From ALF
>> to BASIC INSTINCT there are always numbers mentioned which starts with 555.

>Well, no, not those particular authors. There are no prefixes in my area that


>use 555. I've never heard of any 555 prefix. I think the phone company
>reserved those for either fictional phone numbers so people wouldn't get calls
>based on movies (a little silly, I think. Who would call a phone number from
>a movie?) or the phone system didn't allow it when designed and they've simply
>kept it that way.

The 555 exchange number is reserved for "fake" numbers that are used in
TV and movies, and for certain "maintenance" numbers, such as the automatic
ring-back number, I think. I believe the latter use was first, and the
former was set up because, it turns out, there are a _lot_ of people who
will call numbers from movies or TV, and there is otherwise no way to obtain
a number the is a) out of service and b) will remain so so long as the movie
or TV show is available to market.

Larry Smith (sm...@ctron.com) No, I don't speak for Cabletron. Need you ask?
-
Liberty is not the freedom to do whatever we want,
it is the freedom to do whatever we are able.

dapri...@gallua.gallaudet.edu

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Jul 9, 1993, 6:33:18 PM7/9/93
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In article <1993Jul07....@zadall.wimsey.com>, m...@zadall.wimsey.com (Melanie Arabsky) writes:
> In article <aliskyeC...@netcom.com> ali...@netcom.com (Laura F. Jenkins) writes:
>>
>>The actual rule for use of telephone numbers in theatrical and television
>>productions is 555- followed by the digits 2-9 except the number 555-4545 may not be used. In reality, other numbers are used ocassionally and at times
>>have caused problems for both studios and the unfortunates with those
>>numbers.
>>
> Does anyone remember that song "867-5309 Jenny" where the singer
> repeats "Jenny's" phone number (876-5309) over & over (it was part of
> the chorus). I remember reading about an old guy who had never heard
> of the song but had that number (there may be more than one in diff
> area codes) getting all kinds of rude propositions... In the article
> he just shrugged it off but was quite tired of it.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yep I remember that song, I forget when it came out but it was a big hit
and I remember hearing that people called that number a lot!!! It was right
after that that I started noticing the 555 thing. If they used it before that
then I did not pay attention. I think that song was a real catalyst for the
use of 555 now.

Darlene

Chris Bovitz

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Jul 22, 1993, 11:10:11 AM7/22/93
to

Actually, it's *local* information. If you want a phone number for a
different area code than you're in, dial the area code, then 555-1212.


Chris


--
Chris Bovitz | Native of Tropical Minnesota
Department of Meteorology | (despite what my signature says)
Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison |
moon...@java.meteor.wisc.edu | MST 3K Info Club #16481 Go Twins!

Eric R. Jablow

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Jul 22, 1993, 7:40:02 AM7/22/93
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Actually, the point is that any number beginning with 555- will either
be 555-1212, local information, or be an invalid number. Thus, no
real person wakes up to find his or her number in a movie or TV
series. That's why they only use 555-???? numbers.

One exception to this came a few years ago on TV, on an episode of The
Simpsons. The Korean animators, as a joke, put onto the side of a cab
the real phone numbers of one of the producers. Many fans called that
number, which disrupted the activities at the producer's office. The
producer eventually changed phone numbers.
--
Eric Jablow IDA Center for Communications Research
Princeton, New Jersey
"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."

Jeffrey Neau

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Aug 3, 1993, 8:48:45 AM8/3/93
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In article <lkb.744063557@skaro> l...@skaro.as.arizona.edu (Lysa Kay Beggerly) writes:
>
>
>>Actually, people DO call numbers they hear in movies. Especially once they've
>>gone to video. There are cases of studios having to pay thousands of dollars
>>to people whose numbers were called because they were in a film. The studios
>>are also very careful to avoid readable phone numbers on buildings, etc. on
>>locations.
>
>
>I know this newsgroup is about movies, but this is _somewhat_ related:
>
>
>Remember the song "Jenny" by Tommy TuTone? The poor people who actually had
>the phone number "867-5309" (area code unknown to me) got tons of calls for
>"Jenny", and they ended up changing their phone number and suing the record
>label for using their number. Shortly afterwards, a couple tried to sue the
>group AC/DC for using their phone number in the song "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt
>Cheap", only their case was dismissed when it was shown that the lyrics were
>"3-6-2-4-3-6-hey", not 362-4368 as the couple claimed. But a lot of listeners
>thought it was an 8 and called them anyway, leading to that couple also having
>to change phone numbers.
>
>Lysa Fulbright

Yeah,

I just tried calling each of these numbers. 362-4368 is someone's number.
When I called 867-5309, I got this loud tone in my ear (I can still hear it).
According to the St. Paul phone book, the 867 prefix is for cellular phones...

Jeff

--
Jeffrey Neau - je...@redwood.cray.com

Brian Stuart Thorn

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Aug 8, 1993, 12:19:31 AM8/8/93
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Regarding "867-5309", isn't there a whole slew of them around
the country? I mean, doesn't every area code have an 867 prefix
somewhere?

For instance, when the Tutone song came out, an office at Kennedy
Space Center got alot of calls in the Central Florida area, because
867 is a prefix in that area code.

-Brian
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