Behind the Red Door

Ever since The Screen Savers began in May 1998, we’ve had a tradition of getting our guests to autograph the back of the set. We’ve got a pretty good collection by now with some of the biggest names in the computer industry. I’m going to start photographing these sigs to preserve them.
Here are three to start.

Bluth and Howard autographs

Movie animator Don Bluth (with Mrs. Frisby the mouse). Below, character actor Clint Howard.

Neil Gaiman's autograph

Novelist and bon vivant Neil Gaiman (with the Sandman)

Click the thumbnails for 640×480 versions. Still to come, Linus Torvalds and more.

23 Replies to “Behind the Red Door”

  1. Leo,
    If I were you, I’d pass on Mitnik’s signature. The autograph of a small-time convicted felon who dabbled in technology really doesn’t hold that much significance, in my view.
    Besides, asking someone for their autograph tends to give that person a greater sense of self importance, a quality that Mitnik neither needs nor deserves.
    Andy P.

  2. That is SO incredibly awesome. I hope the actual set is preserved too, in case you guys tear it down for some reason. 🙂

  3. Hi Léo!
    What a great idea! I am sure you guys have quite a collection.
    Let me know when you get Bill Gates, Paul Allen, & Steve Ballmer to sign!
    – Michael J. Titera
    Fremont, California

  4. Hello, Leo.
    It’s good to get some behind the scenes info. But does Uncle Paul like the graffiti? 🙂
    I’m out, Skipper.

  5. Whats up with the Ads on the Screen Savers site ? Horrible flash ad with car driving through my window.
    Pretty annoying.

  6. Elizabeth: there are only two pix – but three autographs!
    I don’t know if we got Mitnick. Or Woz. I’ll check.

  7. Kevin Mitnick is no hero. Why glorify him? (Paul Allen should watch your show, out the door you guys go!) This guy is at best a dumbass, at worst a criminal (a felon he is.) Your market share is below age 20’ish, show a little responsibility. You fail to understand the power of your broadcast on our youth, monkey see, monkey do. Steering these kids in a positive direction is up to you.

  8. There are so many reasons to check in with this Blog, not the least of which are Leo’s highly creative and occasionally frisky titles for his posts. Thanks for the smile, Mr. L. 😉
    Oh, and cool autographs, too!
    Deep Smooches,

  9. Leo,
    Do you think the government would like Mitnick that close to technology? 🙂

  10. Thas cool Brian. Actually, the spycam will be on this weekend. I am working on the proofs of the book. They’re in terrible shape – there’s lots of out of date and nonsensical stuff, so expect some grimaces. And of couse, they were due on Wednesday… of last week.
    Also I broke my glasses (Henry stepped on them!) so I’ll be wearing my old nerd frames. Should be good for some laffs.

  11. That’s very cool Leo, you guys are creating some history there, that is very neat! I know you had so much fun writing that last book of yours, are you getting ideas for another book? Your impressions of all the people you’ve interviewed over the years would be a great read, and you’ve already got some illustrations! (btw: i am only seeing 2 pics, but maybe you’re not done posting yet.)

  12. Thanks for sharing the pics, Leo! Did you get Kevin Mitnick to sign?
    By the way … I should have e-mailed and asked for your permission (you’re such a busy guy, and it seems like something so tiny), but I have links to your spycams (home and work) on my LiveJournal user page. Is that cool with you?
    What you doin’ for the weekend? ^_^

  13. Andy P, yes, what Mitnick did was wrong. But the reason so many look on him is a sort of “hero” is similar to why people consider a thief, Robin Hood, to be a hero.
    Kevin was essentially made a martyr, he waited four or five YEARS and did not get a trial, and served 8 months in solitary confinement because our government was stupid enough to believe he could start a nuclear war with a cell phone!
    I don’t care what your views on the subject you cannot argue that such punishment was justified for what was for all practical purposes a victimless crime by an overzealous youth, not when there are murderers out their who are actually tried and convicted and endure less.

  14. Brian,
    I thought the whole point of a message board was to provide a way for everyone to share information, views and oppinions, hopefully in a polite, civilized fashion. I merely shared my oppinion, as did you — feel free to explain why you feel that was rude.
    If you (or Leo or anyone else) have respect for Mitnick’s skills and knowledge as a hacker, I have no problem with that. But the subject of this message thread is Leo collecting and preserving the autographs of “big names,” and I was only trying to make the point that making a name for yourself by committing crimes (then getting caught) may give a person notoriety, but it certainly should not impart celebrity. Mitnick is certainly no role model- he himself has acknowledged he knew that much of what he was doing was illegal- he just couldn’t resist the thrill of it all.
    Other than using his talents to illegally break into telecommunication and computer systems, just what exactly has Kevin Mitnick done to deserve high recognition or admiration? My point is that requesting, preserving and glorifiying the autograph of this individual seems misguided, unless you’re one of the depressingly increasing number of people in modern times who think that what is important isn’t what you do, but rather how well known you can become doing it.
    Andy P.

  15. Also, don’t forget that Leo himself isn’t ‘collecting’ autographs, this is the set of a TV show where guests arrive daily, I think it is a very cool thing to do, it probably helps break the ice with some folks, to see the names of previous guests.
    Thanks Leo, now I Clint Howard’s scrawl… glad I saw it before Observor got to it! :^)
    On a Tv show I’ve worked on for 18 years, and which has been on the the air for over 30, (and which is still in production!) the crew used to save the seating charts of the guests every week, and we taped them to a wall behind the set, you could see all the names of all the people who had been on over the years and it was kind of fun for the new guests to see, however, the set has been re-designed about 7 times, and no one was there to ‘preserve’ the wall of names, so it went out when the new set came in, about 6 years ago…. we didn’t continue with the ‘seating chart’ wall of fame after that. It is much cooler to have the signatures of the vistor’s, though, so Leo, make sure they don’t redesign the set one week end!

  16. Hmm… I’ve just spent the last few hours muttling about the site and reading lots of info! I’ve been faithfully watching The Screensavers and Call for Help for the past year, and I have to admit that some of the tips have saved my job. Yup, it’s true… I am… *ahem* a TECH! (and they even pay me to play with the servers) I have to say that I stumbled into my profession purely by accident after graduation university with a degree in Communications. I was working at a local radio station hosting a morning drive show, you know the kind- zany and rather retarded- when one interview turned into a “computer help” show. It was the proverbial “one thing led to another” scenario, and I was hired by a local company to become their Internet Service Provider Customer Support person and a “face” for the Networking Department. They were looking for someone with a sense of humour and an ease with people. That was over a year ago, and sharing an office with three other tech guys (I’m the only female) has proven to be an interesting experience. We have the wall o’ AOL CDs glued to the wall, much to the annoyance of our boss; the standard skanky stained coffee pot that has never been cleaned; and of course weird toys and Christmas lights adorning our servers. It’s fantastic to see Leo and Patrick *quickly singing a verse of Oh Patrick, Patrick* showing real life computer tramas and tips for the rest of us to soak up and learn from.
    Leo, thanks for all the work you do! It shows that you enjoy the work that you do, and I hope to follow (at least a smidge) in your footsteps. I love helping folks use their computers, and helping them discover why their machine works the way that it does. Thanks a bazillion for getting out there and making the world of technology a less scary place to inhabit.
    Yours in bits, bytes and geekiness,
    Holly Gordon

  17. Andy, actually, you’re wrong. Leo’s message board can be found at This is Leo’s weblog, and pretty much his diary. The fact that we get to post comments is one thing. Pressing opinions that have been stated before (under the previous Kevin Mitnick topic) is abusing the ability Leo has given us to comment on his entries.

  18. Hey, Andy … I’d e-mail you these comments if you bothered to share your e-mail addy. I think it’s rude that you use someone’s weblog as grounds to voice your (unshared) opinion(s) of someone. You’ve made negative comments once, and that was enough. Obviously, Leo has respect for Kevin Mitnick, as do many other visitors here.
    Let me sum this up with one more comment. Mr. Mitnick did his time, period.

  19. John,
    Thanks for your post- I agree with your comment up to a point. As did Robin Hood, Mitnick achieved hero status in the eys of many because he “stuck it to the Man,” as Leo might say. However, the Robin Hood analogy falls short, because the intrepid leader of Merry Men was motivated by a desire to aid the poor and downtrodden, and assist them in throwing off an oppressive authority, while Mitnick freely admits he did what he did just for kicks. There’s a difference.
    I also agree with your point that, in Mitnick’s case, the punishment did not fit the crime. While I am not familiar with all the details of his case, clearly this was an instance of the government attemping to make an example of him in their efforts to show they were “getting tough” on cybercrime.
    Mitnick broke the law, got caught, was punished (perhaps excessively), and is now moving on with his life. I certainly don’t bear him any ill will- I just don’t think he is deserving of being held in high esteem for his past exploits.

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