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Asner Hoax Brings Donations to Hollywood Theater Campaign

Theater manager Chad Hunter said the Hollywood doesn't want to gain money or notoriety because of a hoax, and looks to move forward in a positive way.

Asner Hoax Brings Donations to Hollywood Theater Campaign

The story of the fake Facebook page bearing actor Ed Asner’s name and a generous donation pledge to Dormont’s Hollywood Theater has brought both attention and increased donations to the Potomac Avenue landmark.

Those associated with Hollywood Theater are grateful for recent donations, but theater manager Chad Hunter said this isn’t how they wanted to gain money or notoriety for the Hollywood.

“We would prefer not to get attention to our cause through someone’s fraudulent, misguided attempt to draw people to us,” he said. “We’d rather get the message out in more positive ways.”

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.

Donations to Hollywood Theater’s IndieGogo campaign were at just above $4,000 on Jan. 29, the day the false post was made. Since then, donations have jumped to $5,637.

That jump isn't huge, Hunter acknowledged, but said the theater has no intention of taking money under false pretenses, for any amount.

If someone donated as a direct result of the fake Facebook post, and wants the money back, Hunter said the theater will return the donation.

News that the Facebook page is fake broke Monday morning, when Dormont-Brookline Patch published an investigative piece following email correspondence with Charles Sherman, Asner's public relations representative. Sherman confirmed the page is fake.

Within hours, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and KDKA published similar stories, followed by the Associated Press, and even Denver Post, which each aggregated from Pittsburgh sources.

“I was wondering if it would get picked up and go anywhere,” Hunter said Tuesday. “Definitely, there was a quick uptake when this was first posted.”

The Facebook page bearing Asner’s name has not been removed. Sherman told Dormont-Brookline Patch last week that the matter would be forwarded to Asner’s counsel for review. On Tuesday, he said he had no update about the situation.

The identity of the person who runs the fake page is still unknown.

The Facebook page was created on Oct. 31, 2011. Most of the posts since then have been photos of the actor and links to news articles, some about the actor’s work.

The Hollywood Theater post is the only one on the page related to the Pittsburgh area.

Most of the status updates are written in first person, as though posted by the actor.

A post from Nov. 15, 2011 reads:

Wow, I am getting old! Thanks to everyone for the well wishes. Enjoying a cigar and reflecting on all of the wonderful years behind me and hoping for many many more.

Another from Jan. 12, 2012 reads:

This Facebook genre is obviously a very new medium for me (recall the shattered iPad). So many sincere comments. I wish that I could respond individually.

The page looked convincing enough that some members of Friends of Hollywood Theater, although skeptical, left comments on the page. None received an answer, and Hunter said no one at Hollywood Theater has heard from the actor or anyone associated with him.

“It’s really bizarre that someone would continue something like that for that period of time,” he said. “We just want to be open and honest about our side of things, and move forward in a positive way.”

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