Cellphone Number Gives Midwest Couple Taste of A-List Hollywood Life

PHOTO: Bob Gray and Liza Foster were guests on Good Morning America, Dec. 13, 2011.
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It is one thing to become an overnight celebrity when your debut movie becomes a multi-million dollar success, or when the nation votes you in as the next "American Idol."

It is quite another to become entangled in Tinseltown, literally, overnight, when you get a new cellphone number.

Such is the case of Cleveland native Bob Gray and his girlfriend, Liza Foster, who found out when they moved from Cleveland to California last year that one way to rise to the cream of Hollywood's A-list crop is to request three simple digits: 310.

After settling in at their new home in Huntington Beach, Calif., Gray decided the couple needed Los Angeles phone numbers to go with their new California lives.

So, in January, the 45-year-old cameraman and sports broadcast director walked into his local Sprint store and requested a 310, Los Angeles area code.

While Foster got the former number of an older woman who had prescriptions with several pharmacies, Gray's new number turned out to be a prescription for a whole new life, of celebrity stardom.

"The very next day after I changed it, I get a text message saying, 'Hey, I saw your stuff on TMZ, what a bummer,'" Gray told "Good Morning America." "I'm like, 'TMZ, whose phone did I get?'"

The phone number Gray got, he would soon discover, was formerly that of comedian Nick Swardson, a well-connected, as the couple would also soon discover, actor with prominent TV and movie appearances and several screenwriting credits.

Swardson's Hollywood friends inundated Gray's cellphone with calls and messages to the point he considered getting rid of the number.

But, then, he started getting texts from Paris. Not Paris, France. Paris Hilton.

"When Paris texted us … the text said 'Hey, hon, it's my birthday party up in the hills I want you to come…love Paris," said Gray. "So we are like 'Holy cow, Paris.' We only know of one."

The replied to the text, saying they'd love to come to Hilton's 30th birthday bash, but asked that their names be put on the list. They figured, that way, they weren't exactly gate-crashing.

"We rolled up in our Dodge minivan, with Ohio plates, it was all rusted out," Foster said of the couple's un-Hollywood arrival to Hilton's party. "Everybody there was in evening gowns…I showed up in jeans and sneakers."

Their still-Midwest looks gave Hilton's security guards pause that the couple were indeed crashing the socialite's party.

"The security guard looks at me and goes, 'Who the heck are you?,' Gray said. "And I said, 'I'm Bob Gray.'"

"He rolls his eyes and he goes off and checks the list," Gray recalled. "He comes back and was so embarrassed and mortified and he goes, 'Yeah, you're on the list.'"

"So I hop out of the car, I toss him the keys and I go, 'Park it,'" he said.

Though Hilton's party topped the list, other invites came flowing in too, via cellphone, of course.

"It ran the gamut, actors, agents, restaurant openings, parties," Gray said.

Gray figured out the mystery of the former owner of his 310 cellphone number in a very A-list way, when comedian Adam Sandler called his friend, Swardsen, one night.

"I recognize his voice and I said, 'Is this Adam Sandler?' I told him what was going on, especially the Paris party, and he just thought it was hysterical," Gray said. "He said, 'I'm going to tell Nick you're saving all his messages.'"

About a week later, three months into the charade, Swardson called to check in.

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