Verizon getting rid of 'Can you hear me now?' spokesman

Fri. April 15, 2011 6:12 AM by News Staff

Los Angeles - Verizon cellphone spokesman Paul Marcarelli, the out gay actor whose portrayal of the guy who says "Can you hear me now?" made him famous, said he's being phased out of the advertising campaign and is now focusing on producing a gay-themed movie.

"Don't feel bad for me, but I'm definitely glad that chapter is over," he told The Atlantic. He said he was informed of the change in advertising strategy in an email.

His contract obligated him to appear in 20-40 spots a year commercials -- in addition to numerous live events.

His new movie project is called "The Green," and features Jason Butler Harner and Julia Ormond in a story about a gay couple in a small town. One of the men, a schoolteacher, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. The student runs away, and his mother and mother's boyfriend try to capitalize financially on the alleged affair.

Marcarelli felt obligated to hide his own true identity as he played Verizon's "Test Man," but neighbors near his home in Connecticut knew, and he told the Atlantic that teenagers would drive by his house and shout "Can you hear me now?" and use gay slurs.

Marcarelli, who reportedly received up to $6,000 a commercial, said he was appreciative of the money he made as the Test Man, but was glad that he would no longer be cornered by strangers and people at weddings to take pictures.