And you thought the Backstreet Boys had it all. Brian Fehlau '99, a first-year graduate student and resident advisor at Kirkland House, won a place in the hearts and on the speed dials of swarms of dateless, pre-pubescent jetsetters before Howie even purchased a cowboy hat. A veteran in the modeling industry, Brian's spotlight shined bright when he appeared eight years ago on the board game Dream Phone. The middle-schoolers cooed over Brian's alter-identity Scott, the attractive basketball player whose skills on the court courted many a fan.
Brian describes the game as "somewhat like Clue, in which you narrow down the list of boys, find your match, and call him up." He scored the job through a local agent while a junior in high school in Bedford, Massachusetts. Paid $100 to sit for a thirty-minute photo shoot, Brian admits he felt flattered that his photo would soon evoke giggling fits at slumber parties and scribbling frenzies in the margins of marbleized notebooks. His younger sister's friends squealed, "Your brother is the cutest one!" but Brian couldn't help but think, "Hey! Thirteen year-old girls - isn't that illegal?" He now speaks enthusiastically of Scrabble but in his heyday, Brian picked up that Dream Phone a little bit more than other boys his age. In his maturity, he confesses that the game is rather "stupid."
Nevertheless, Brian lives by the motto: once a star, always a star. Upon discovering the celebrity in their midst, the Harvard Glee Club purchased a copy of the game, the playing of which endures as a tradition within the group.
His Dream Phone status set off a chain reaction in Hollywood, where he was soon cast in other insignificant, pretty boy roles. One of his most profound performances showed his toned butt as he strutted "away from the camera for three seconds" in a national SuperSoaker commercial on television. He recalls the filming as "a fun day spent at a gorgeous house in western Massachusetts, sitting by the pool, and eating chips." Brian also fondly reminisces about his big break as Extra #30 in the movie School Ties starring fellow actors Brendan Fraser, Chris O'Donnell, and Matt Damon. He relished "living it up on the movie set," learning the jitterbug, and schmoozing with the stars. Brian's share of good will was found in the company of Chris O'Donnell rather than Matt Damon, who proved to be "kind of a pain."
As a result of his showbiz experience, Brian has developed a heightened insight into and appreciation for advertisements in general, as well as camaraderie with fellow underdog extras, for whom he finds himself cheering when watching television. He also believes his career prepared him for life at Harvard: "I have the ability to be in front of a lot of people and be comfortable doing something normal...or something stupid."
As for communication these days, Brian says, "I own a really cheap phone that doesn't have a ringer that works." He does, however, have his hopes set on a pricey animated M&M telephone.
Though the makers of Dream Phone failed to offer Brian any share of the royalties, he still views the experience as a gem of an opportunity, one with great potential for the forty-niners of Harvard today. He asserts, "There is definitely room for everyone at Harvard to play both Trivial Pursuit and Dream Phone." If you're up to the challenge, Brian, and Scott, can be reached at 555-5599.
--K. E. KITCHEN