Atari names new spokesperson
By Robert DeWitt
Alan Alda, certainly one of the best-liked and most-credible stars in the entertainment world, has signed with Atari, Inc. to be spokesperson for its computers for the next five years. He will represent Atari in TV advertising and public relations capacities.
The announcement was made by Atari President Raymond Kassar and by Warner Chairman Steven Ross at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago in June, where several new products in the XL line were unveiled. The arrangement with Alda is expected to more than match the celebrity-spokesman impact achieved by competing computer companies.
Although not previously an ATARI owner, Alda did have an unnamed computer he stopped using because it was too difficult to understand, "like being at the wise man's knee and not knowing his language,' Alda is quoted as saying. Atari has supplied him with all its products, and he expects to find them easier to use.
Bruce Entin, Atari's Vice President for Press Relations, accompanied Alda to the Chicago announcement and helped him familiarize himself with the Atari line during a visit to Sunnyvale. "Alda is very interested in the computer, both as a source of fun and of education. He thinks its going to be our major learning tool for years to come. I know he was very impressed with our new LOGO when we showed it to him. He seemed to feel that ATARI was a computer he could understand,' Entin reported.
Alda also commented on the power of the computer to bridge the gap between peoples and generations. "I was at a Thanksgiving dinner recently where a major topic for everyone was the strategy for clearing screens at Pac-Man. Atari knows how to entertain, and if you can keep them entertained, you can also teach."
Alan Alda has recently ended an Al-year association with the television serial M'A' S#H, for which he wrote and directed numerous episodes as well as acted the principal role of Hawkeye Pierce. No new creative projects for him have yet been announced, according to agent Martin Bregman, but the Atari assignment will only be a "small part of his total activities."
Atari sought Alda, Bregman stated, but Alda's acceptance was based on his positive judgement of the products Atari is offering. "Alan will never represent products he doesn't believe in,' Bregman said.
Alan Alda's interest in family life and devotion to his own has been widely reported. He has three daughters, now grown; and he and his wife alternate between homes in New York and Los Angeles.