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Talk about soft sell

Shelley Long, Pitchperson

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Actors, by profession, have always made convincing spokespeople, with their appealing personalities used to warm buyers up to everything from cars to chips — and now computer software. But how much do these seemingly cybersavvy celebs really know about computers? We asked Hollywood’s quintessential homemaking flibbertigibbet Shelley Long (The Money Pit and The Brady Bunch Movie), who’s pitching Microsoft Bob, a home-organizational program. Originally launched in April with a public test-drive by Murphy Brown’s Faith Ford, Bob’s new target is the computer-phobe housewife, a role that Long didn’t need to research.

— Erin Richter

How did you get involved with Microsoft Bob?

That’s sort of a mystery. I guess Microsoft thought that I would be an organized person or that I would be interested in being organized. The part that I think is ironic but very appropriate is that I was not a computer person and I’m still not.

Before Bob, did you ever use a computer?

I had tried to get on the computer. I’d been shown a couple of times what to do, and I just wasn’t motivated enough to really accomplish something. [My 10-year-old daughter is] much better on the computer than I am.

What other programs do you have on your computer at home?

Bob works with Windows 95, so that offers tremendous possibilities. Also Bob has a fun game called GeoSafari. [My daughter] has put something on the computer — I think it’s called Myst — that she likes a lot.

Microsoft describes the Bob support group Organized Chaos as ”a Tupperware-party-like club.” Do you think women will find this…

Off-putting? The reality is, Tupperware’s sort of become an icon, and like most icons we value it and we poke fun at it at the same time. But the truth is, the stuff works.

What about Microsoft attracts so many celebrities?

They do a good job. We like to work with people who know what they’re doing.

Will your compensation be comparable to the Rolling Stones’ multimillion-dollar deal for the use of ”Start Me Up”?

Oh, I doubt it. [Laughs] I doubt it.