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To my fans, with love

A local company promises personalized, autographed photographs of celebrities for a fee.

By CARY L. WILLIAMS
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 25, 2002


Fans of famous entertainers and athletes have a new way to snare personalized autographs, without leaving home. It's made possible by a Drew Park company staking a new claim on the Internet frontier.

The company, Autographed To You, or ATY, touts itself as a conduit between celebrities and fans.

Let's say you're a longtime admirer of NFL Hall of Fame great Paul Hornung. You've never seen him in person and probably never will. You want his autograph. Enter autographedtoyou.com. The site posts a roster of celebrities, mostly famous athletes, including Hornung. For a fee, you pick a photo, choose a personalized statement and fill in your name.

In one to six weeks, the company says, you'll receive an 8- by 10-inch photo, signed and personalized by Hornung.

Each celebrity sets the price of his or her photo, typically $30 to $75.

The fee is divided three ways: A third goes to the celebrity, a third to ATY and a third to charity, though some stars give their share to charity, too.

"Everyone goes away with something," said company spokesman Ron Jackson, a former television sports anchor who lives in Citrus Park.

The company is based on Lois Avenue near Tampa International Airport.

From there, photos are shipped to the celebrity, signed, returned to Tampa, then forwarded to the customer.

Company co-founders Byron Lancaster and J.B. Seligman, who live in the Tampa area, stumbled on the idea two years ago. A mutual friend wanted Farrah Fawcett's autograph. They looked on eBay, to no avail.

That got Lancaster thinking. A few weeks later, autographedtoyou.com was born.

The company began its rollout in mid July with a publicity party at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, then staged a soiree in Miami earlier this month.

Jackson says ATY is donating $10,000 to the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, founded by former Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti. Similar events are planned for Las Vegas and Tampa.

Sports figures dominate the lineup, with only a sprinkling of movie and recording stars.

Farrah Fawcett isn't among them.

Jackson expects the roster to grow, after recent developments that include a deal with Hollywood promoter David Mirisch.

And Fawcett?

"We're working that too," Jackson said.

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