Commercializing celebrity -- James Earl Jones, Marlon Brando, George Clooney and more are finding a pretty penny in advertising

By Scott Brown
Updated April 09, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Sure, we can identify the seismic rumble of James Earl Jones in those AT&T ads, but who knew that the voice of Vaseline belongs to that frisky redhead from…uh, that sitcom with the frisky redhead? (No, the other one.) That’s just one current commercial with a familiar set of pipes. Here’s who’s talking.

THE SPOT: A negligent pizza man serves schizo Pepsi spokescutie Hallie Eisenberg ”that other cola,” prompting her to channel her inner godfather: ”We both know I ordered a Pepsi-Cola. And now you insult me and my entire family by offering me this.”
THE VOICE: Yes, Virginia, there is a Marlon Brando, and he did do this self-parodying voice-over.
WHERE YOU’LL HEAR IT NEXT: His reps will only say several projects are in the works. Hopefully, one of them is a Parkay spot: ”I taste like butter, don’t I? Then why do you treat me so disrespectfully?”

THE SPOT: A woman’s dry skin — seen as a shapely outline on a white background — speaks out, saying in a husky alto: ”Take Vaseline Intensive Care of me.”
THE VOICE: Kathy Griffin, better known as hornball amanuensis Vicki on Suddenly Susan.
WHERE YOU’LL HEAR IT NEXT: Leaving the skin trade behind, Griffin is in two indie comedies: Can’t Stop Dancing and Dill Scallion, a country-music mockumentary.

THE SPOT: A smooth-voiced narrator hawks the newly redesigned Mitsubishi Galant.
THE VOICE: ER‘s Noah Wyle.
WHERE YOU’LL HEAR IT NEXT: Wyle will portray Apple Computer chief Steve Jobs in TNT’s The Pirates of Silicon Valley this June.

THE SPOT: An unassuming narratrix touts the merits of Lysol, noting ”Till you have our name on it, you can’t call it clean,” after which an adorable toddler trashes a kitchen with impunity.
THE VOICE: Bebe Neuwirth, the perpetually antiseptic Lilith of Cheers and Frasier.
WHERE YOU’LL HEAR IT NEXT: On May 31 she taps into that dry Lilith-esque wit as Dorothy Parker in A&E’s Dash and Lilly.

THE SPOT: Tremulous narration prophesies network provider Qwest’s ability to change the future of the Internet.
THE VOICE: Affliction‘s Willem Dafoe.
WHERE YOU’LL HEAR IT NEXT: In David Cronenberg’s sci-fi bleak-orama, eXisTenz, due April 23, 1999.

THE SPOT: A dad makes it home from the boardroom in time for his daughter’s bedtime, as a paternal baritone credits this feat to Arthur Andersen Consulting, which is ”helping in ways you never imagined.”
THE VOICE: George Clooney, ER‘s Dr. Ross.
WHERE YOU’LL HEAR IT NEXT: In the recently completed Gulf War adventure Three Kings.