A colossal mistake: Port Angeles pizzeria gets bombarded by errant 'American Idol' calls
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Randy Sexton, owner of Gordy's Pizza & Pasta in Port Angeles, was smiling for this photo Friday but not necessarily two days before when his business phone for food orders rang off the hook with calls misdirected from the television program “American Idol.”

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — Gordy's Pizza & Pasta was flooded with callers one night last week, but they weren't hungry for the deluxe cheese pie or the signature fettuccine.

They were the voracious fans of “American Idol.”

For two hours Wednesday, an annoying portion of more than 71 million votes cast for contestants on the hit Fox TV show were mistakenly received by the Italian eatery at 1123 E. First St.

But as of Friday, the company still lacked any guarantee that the same deluge would not again be unleashed this Wednesday upon the same phone number the restaurant has had for 50 years, owner Randy Sexton said.

The show has 12 episodes remaining after contestant Kristen O'Connor was eliminated Wednesday.

During the telephonic onslaught, employees were answering the phones and only sometimes getting a customer.

“Our phones were off the hook,” Sexton said.

“They were dealing with a frenzy of ring, ring, ring, ring, ring.

“The staff was answering every phone call as if it was a customer.”

A spokeswoman for the iconic show, in its 13th season, was unable by early Friday to elaborate on the cause of the confusion or the cure.

“We apologize to Gordy's Pizza & Pasta,” said the woman, who refused to give her name.

“We are currently working closely with the phone carrier to identify what happened and the best solution to this matter.”

Sexton said a mistake may have been made — possibly a keyboard typo — when voters' calls were routed through AT&T.

He said most of the calls seemed to be from the East Coast.

Sandy Bennett, who set up and manages the show's voting system, did not have an answer to the snafu, according to an email she sent to Wave Broadband in an effort to address the problem.

Bennett is the general manager of Los Angeles-based Telescope, “a provider of audience participation, consumer engagement and social television solutions,” according to the company's website at www.telescope.tv.

She suggested exploring the possibility of blocking out-of-state calls to Gordy's during show nights subject to Sexton's approval.

“The purpose of this is to prevent the misdials/routed calls from flooding Mr. Sexton's lines and interrupting his business while we continue to work on investigating the cause.”

Bennett also suggested placing a trap on the line to detect the number that “American Idol” voters are actually dialing.

“While they say they are calling 855-443-6411, it's quite possible it's something similar and is somehow tied to the pizza company,” Bennett wrote.

“Regardless, this is the only way to know for sure.

“We have until Wednesday to implement one or both of the above solutions.”

Sexton — who welcomes customers seeking pizza, pasta and other goodies at the business at 360-457-5056 — was not happy about the prospect of another night of frenzied phone calls from “American Idol” fans.

“I have three months of potential challenge if they don't figure out how to reroute or unroute calls in a different way,” he said.

“Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.”


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 02. 2014 9:53AM
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