A donation pledge from actor Ed Asner to Dormont’s Hollywood Theater has turned out to be fake.
Social media was buzzing last week after a post—written in first person, as though in the actor’s voice—appeared on a Facebook page bearing Asner’s name, photos and biography. The post was a pledge of support to Hollywood Theater, claiming the actor would double donations to the Hollywood's IndieGogo campaign.
But on Friday, representatives associated with the actor confirmed that the Facebook account was a fake.
“I guess I’m not terribly surprised,” said Hollywood Theater manager Chad Hunter. “I think initially we were all skeptical but excited, and hoping to get more news. When we didn’t get it I was starting to worry.”
It's a local twist on the type of schemes that have been in the news lately, starting with the story of duped Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend, and followed by an MTV reality series that examines the issue and its young adult victims.
The Hollywood Theater case is just as bizarre.
Although the Facebook account was fake, the link posted to the IndieGogo fundraising campaign page was correct. If anyone who saw the link on the fake Asner page decided to donate, their donations did go to the correct fundraising campaign and will benefit Hollywood Theater.
Contributions to the Hollywood Theater's IndieGogo campaign, which were hovering just above $4,000 on Tuesday, have since jumped to $5,527. Unfortunately, because the Facebook page—and likely its donation claim—is fake, the donation amount will not be doubled.
The false Facebook page posting is misleading, because at a glance, it appears legitimate.
The post included numerous photos of Hollywood Theater, which appear to have been taken from the Hollywood Theater website, and from Dormont-Brookline Patch. A link to a Dormont-Brookline Patch article about the theater’s fundraising efforts also was posted.
Members of Friends of Hollywood Theater became aware of the post last Wednesday, and some members, as well as fans and patrons of the theater, posted notes of thanks, appreciation and sheer excitement on the Facebook page. Hunter also posted, asking Asner to contact the theater.
But on Thursday evening, Hunter told Dormont-Brookline Patch none of those inquiries had been answered, and no one from the theater had heard from the actor. Dormont-Brookline Patch also sent an interview request through the Facebook page, but did not receive an answer.
Hunter said the board members were skeptical from the start, but wanted to see the situation through and determine, for certain, if the page was valid.
"This is either very real, or it's a very cruel joke," Hunter said Thursday.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a joke.
On Thursday, Dormont-Brookline Patch emailed Charles Sherman Public Relations, which has represented the actor, and asked if the Facebook page could be verified.
By Friday morning, Charles Sherman responded with news that he had spoken to Asner’s assistant.
Sherman confirmed that Ed Asner does not—and never did—have a Facebook account, and that the page is a fake.
The Facebook page bearing the actor’s name had not been taken down, as of Sunday evening. The page has nearly 5,000 friends and more than 2,200 followers.
It is not known who runs the page, but as Sherman confirmed, it is not run by Ed Asner, nor is it officially associated with the actor.
The news was disappointing to Hollywood Theater supporters. Dormont-Brookline Patch notified Hunter of the information by voicemail on Friday evening, and the next day, he posted the information on the theater’s Facebook page.
Hunter said those close to Hollywood Theater are hopeful and are looking toward the future.
“It’s kind of sad somebody would do something like that, but I guess all we can do is look ahead to the future,” Hunter said. “Hopefully we’ve got good news coming shortly and we’ve got hundreds of people who’s given otherwise, so I think we’re in good shape and we’ll just look ahead.”Dormont's Hollywood Theater must raise $75,000 for a digital movie projector, or risk closing. Click here for details. To donate, see the Indiegogo—Hollywood Theater website.
UPDATE: The false Ed Asner Facebook page is no longer available. However, Asner's daughter and assistant, Liza Asner, confirmed in an email to Dormont-Brookline Patch that an Ed Asner Facebook Fan Page does exist, and is managed by Asner's son, Matt.