Hard to Feel Sorry for Verizon Signature

With the very notable exception of some horrific gay slurs he received, it's tough to feel sorry for the long-time face of Verizon Wireless with the hipster glasses and jacket, asking "Can you hear me now?"

A piece in the latest issue of "The Atlantic" with the subhead "The Verizon Guy Gets His Life Back" would have you believe the actor Paul Marcarelli was in Alcatraz and actually uses the word "imprisonment" to describe restrictions the ad campaign placed on him. One of the issues was he apparently endured some tough times in receiving too much attention in public.

So Paul, why did you keep doing the spots for going on nearly a decade?

If the "Test Man" role has been so deflating, why did you do a Super Bowl spot - perhaps seen by 100 million -- just two months ago? Contract be darned, just don't show up for the shoot. Disgruntled actors have been doing that for years.

In the piece, Marcarelli does admit he fell into the art vs. commerce conundrum. Effectively, he opted to become the distinguished professor who writes a paperback flying off the shelves at airport newsstands.



"There's a price to pay," Marcarelli says. "Don't feel bad for me, but I'm definitely glad (the Verizon work) is over."

He goes on to say "kind of made my money" and now "wants to do something of value." He's got a movie now, though is still under contract with Verizon.

As for the public recognition, The Atlantic story indicates Marcarelli has had to make a "concession to reality" in abandoning the "Buddy Holly-style" glasses in public that he wears in the ads has been painful.

Man, that it some rough going.

Yet, even if he wore them outdoors, it's pretty hard to picture him not being able to blend in without his stage look. He's a long way from being a male Angelina Jolie. Looking like everyman, seems highly achievable for him.

The Atlantic piece does include Marcarelli recounting some ghastly abuse he endured for being gay, insults that "got progressively more profane as the years went by," he says. One night he called the police after an incident, but declined to file a report to avoid publicity about "Test Man" being harassed for being gay. Understandable.

The Atlantic piece does, however, indicate suffering at his grandma's funeral when someone whispered "Can you hear me now" as she was being lowered into the grave. Weird and painful, yes. But dare it be said, grandma might have been proud.

Then, Marcarelli had to ensure the absolute horro of more people wanting to take photos with him than the bride at a wedding. It would have been nice if he told The Atlantic he felt bad for the bride even if it was so darn agonizing. (Stars a lot more famous than him do photo lines.)

Marcarelli's initial contract with Verizon did prohibit him from pursuing other work or speaking publicly. That was changed later, yet he says he felt plugging other projects he may have taken on would be a mistake. He "didn't want to be put in a position ... that might affect my income stream."

Yet, he had become so indispensable to Verizon that risk was probably moderate.

Who did Verizon turn to for the Super Bowl spot to tell the world it now offers the iPhone with better reception than AT&T?

Bet on "Test Man" being in Verizon ads again and again by choice. His.

1 comment about "Hard to Feel Sorry for Verizon Signature".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, April 15, 2011 at 4:22 p.m.

    If he hated the job, it doesn't matter that he was well-paid. It's sometimes called "golden handcuffs" when you get more money for something you hate doing but can't afford to leave. I understand perfectly. Money is great but it's not everything.

Next story loading loading..