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Academy Award Winner Forest Whitaker Teams with AT&T to Ask Movie Goers to "Listen"


Atlanta - After giving one of the most moving acceptance speeches of the 2007 Academy Awards, Forest Whitaker is asking moviegoers to “take a moment and listen.” For the first time ever, Whitaker has lent his writing, acting and directing skills to a single production, creating a 30-second public service announcement for AT&T’s Be Sensible wireless courtesy program. Whitaker’s spot will begin appearing in movie theaters nationwide beginning Friday, April 27, at AMC Entertainment, Cinemark USA, Loews and Regal Entertainment Group theaters.

For six years, AT&T’s wireless unit, formerly Cingular Wireless, has sponsored a theater campaign that asks moviegoers to silence their wireless devices during movies. The company’s most recent spot was created by Academy Award-winning film director Sydney Pollack.

The public service announcement features Whitaker and another male actor quietly requesting that a large crowd, gathered around a stage in a park, listen to the silence that exists within themselves.

“Just take this moment and listen,” he says softly into the microphone. “Escucha” (which means listen), says another man in Spanish. A woman hurries to the front of the crowd to hear better, and as she steps forward and heeds their advice, she closes her eyes and smiles, seemingly relaxing in the solitude and tranquility of the moment. The entire crowd appears to take a collective breath, relishing the silence.

“If you find the voice inside of you, you can change the world,” Whitaker whispers in the spot, echoing his statement from his Academy Award acceptance speech that “through our combined belief, we can create a new reality.”

“I wanted to take part in this endeavor because of my strong belief in the light that exists in all of us,” Whitaker said. “If we take the time to connect first to ourselves by being silent, then we can connect to others — whether through entertainment or through personal interactions,” he added. “Acting, writing and directing is my way of connecting to everyone. Films can create a deep connection; they can get people talking and listening. So it’s important to be silent for those short few hours in the dark of the cinema.”

“I decided to do this because AT&T’s program reaches 550 million moviegoers annually, and if we can reach some of those 550 million people with this message, we will all enjoy the movies more. We can leave the theater and accomplish a little more or feel a little more connected than we did when we arrived,” Whitaker said.

“One of the most well-respected actors in Hollywood has embraced our campaign to remind people to silence their cell phones in theaters,” said Tim Klein, AT&T vice president of the wireless unit. “Going to the movies is one of the few respites from our busy world today, and we are proud to continue to help create a more enjoyable experience for all moviegoers through our Be Sensible wireless courtesy program.”

“We are pleased to work so closely with AT&T to remind American moviegoers of cell phone courtesy,” said Cliff Marks, president of sales and chief marketing officer of National CineMedia, the cinema advertising and marketing company that brings AT&T’s wireless courtesy program to theaters nationwide. “These efforts, based on research showing that people will silence their phones when reminded, clearly make a difference. To have someone of Whitaker’s stature lend his talents to our program is a testament to the power of this program and to the medium of film.”


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