NEW YORK -- It may be one of the most boring lines ever -- "Leave a message after the beep." But what if you managed to jazz up your phone's outgoing message with a celebrity?
The advocacy group Autism Speaks is offering just that: custom-recorded messages from "Batman" star Adam West, "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston, singer Cher, actors Jack Black, Peter Dinklage, Jim Parsons, "Star Wars" star Mark Hamill, "Star Trek" actors Michael Dorn and Zachary Quinto, and broadcaster Vin Scully.
"We got a good mix and match," said Ed Asner, the curmudgeonly Emmy Award winner of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Lou Grant," who dreamed up the unusual fundraiser with one of his sons, Matt, who works for Autism Speaks. "They've all been really happy to do it. And if they're not happy, I'll put a hit out on them."
From Oct. 7 to Oct. 13, a limited number of 20-second long MP3 messages you write will be recorded by each celebrity on a first-come, first-served basis for fans to do with as they wish. All requests must be of the PG variety and each costs $299.
Last year, the fundraiser created some memorable messages: Betty White warned listeners to one phone number, "If I have to tell you what to do at the beep, then you're an idiot and shouldn't be using a phone in the first place." Callers to another number got Will Ferrell saying, "Leave Jimmy a message while we eat some meatloaf." And Patrick Stewart lent his smooth British accent to one: "You could leave a message," he purred, "but we both know it would be nowhere as awesome as this greeting."
Some 342 messages were made last year during the inaugural campaign, helping raise $100,000.
All proceeds will support autism research and advocacy efforts. An estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum, a developmental disorder characterized by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors.