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Hey, Matt:

In movies and television, when you see a hand with a pen or pencil write something on a piece of paper, is that really the actor, or does Hollywood have a large reserve of people with excellent penmanship that they call on to write on screen? I thought that the elves might have the proper insider connections to get to the bottom of this conspiracy.

-- Matt and Michelle, Santee

Aw, you know us-- real tight with the stars. Real tight. They wouldn't want me to tell you this, but you can bet that if you're not looking at a star's face, you're not looking at the star at all. Figure Nicholson and Stallone prep for a role by going to calligraphy classes? Stars aren't even willing to stand for shots with their backs to the camera; they use body doubles to do that. On film, any disembodied hand, foot, ear, elbow, boob, whatever, is 99% sure to be a "parts model," a person with some particularly photogenic feature. According to local talent agent Nancy Washburn, when you see someone writing very neat script in a movie or TV commercial, you're watching a calligrapher hired specifically for his/her penmanship. So remember this rule of thumb. It's somebody else's thumb.

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