7.22.2005

'Hello, Can I Speak to God?'



Phone Number Brings Almighty Problems

from The St. Petersburg Times

Five or six times a week, week in and week out, stretching now into year in and year out, somebody calls Dawn Jenkins' cell phone and asks to speak to God.

It's not a hoax. It's not somebody trying to drive Jenkins crazy, although she acknowledges it might be having that effect.

The St. Petersburg resident is the victim of a bad decision by a very big and important movie maker. Universal Studios used Jenkins' number in the 2003 Jim Carrey hit Bruce Almighty. In fiction, it was supposed to be God's phone number. In reality, Universal thought it was nobody's phone number.

Universal was wrong.

The St. Petersburg Times originally spoke with Jenkins shortly after the movie came out. Back then she was getting 15 to 20 calls an hour from people asking for God. The calls have decreased, but not disappeared.

"Why this is still going on two years after the movie came out, I don't know. I don't even ask people any more why they're calling. I don't have time. I've had two calls for God already today, and it isn't even 2 o'clock."

Bruce Almighty was set in Buffalo, N.Y. Producers did not use a 555-prefix number for the direct line to God, but instead one that, at the time, had not been issued to anyone in Buffalo's area code, according to a Universal spokesman.

But in some area codes, including 727, the number had been claimed. In Pinellas County, Jenkins had the number. It's a nonworking number in 813 and 352 area codes.

Since the movie didn't specify an area code, people across the country began calling the local version of the number that came up on the movie screen, and so began Dawn Jenkins' ordeal.

"The people at Universal were very responsive," said Jenkins, a database administrator and part-time jewelry maker. "It was a mistake. They were very apologetic. When the video came out, they had changed the number to one with the 555 prefix."

Jenkins plans to keep her number despite the headaches. It is a custom number that spells out the name of her jewelry business.

"I'm not giving it up for anybody," she said. "Not even for God."

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