Jason Antone's celebrity worshipping notoriety has captured the attention of the British Broadcasting Co. in London.
The 25-year-old West Bloomfield man, who struggles with an incurable and inherited disease, Friedreich's ataxia, created his
own public access cable television program to show
others that a disability need not prevent them from achieving their goals. "The JROCK Show" is broadcast in West Bloomfield and Grand
Rapids from his living room because he rarely leaves the house. He has, however, solicited phone calls and e-mails from celebrities,
and they have answered. More than 50 calls and e-mails have come from such luminaries as Regis Philbin, actresses Jaime Pressley
and Carrie Fisher, Jimmy Kimmel, Sugar Ray Leonard and wrestler Johnny Valiant. He also has received an autographed basketball
from Shaquille O'Neal, and an autographed book from Donald Trump. Since his story appeared in The Detroit News on Jan. 27,
Antone has been profiled on Fox 2 News locally, and his story has been picked up by media outlets across the United States
through the Internet. But, he says, he's never has received a call from outside the United States. Until Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm in shock," he said from his parents' home in West Bloomfield. "This is the first time anything like this has happened."
Emma Tracey, a researcher for a BBC Web magazine by the disabled for the disabled, contacted The Detroit News on Tuesday,
saying she wanted to contact Antone to interview him. "It is a podcast that we present every month, and it's informal, like
chatting among yourselves in a pub, or what you Americans would call a bar," she said. "I'm not sure if we've ever had an
American on the show before. I think Jason will be the first."
She left a message for Antone explaining how the show operates.
Tracey said she would be interviewing Antone over the phone next Friday and then it would be broadcast on the BBC Web site
by March 15. Antone also is featured in World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Mick Foley's just-published book, "Hardcore
Diaries." Foley writes nearly a half page about Antone on page 106. And he called Antone Wednesday, just to chat. "I can't
believe I actually talked to a wrestler on the phone," said Antone, who said his entire family -- mom, dad and three brothers
-- are wrestling fans. "He said he'll be in town to sign copies of his book soon, and said he could come by my house to be
interviewed for my 'JROCK Show.'
It feels like my whole life is complete now." Jason said he never fails to amaze his family. "My family is very proud of me
and they've encouraged me a lot," Antone said. "This gives people hope in their life that here's a guy who may have a disability,
but he's still going strong." Antone said "The JROCK
Show" will resume in April. For now, those who would like to hear the phone calls
from celebrities may log onto his Web site, http://jrocknitro.tripod.com. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. To listen
to the podcast broadcast from London, log onto www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/