"We got a good mix and match," 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.