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September 26, 2012

Ed Norton Set to Play 'Words with Friends' Charity Competition

By Colleen Lynch, TMCnet Contributor

It’s always nice to see celebrities doing normal things like the rest of us--getting gas, shopping for groceries, playing Words with Friends... That’s right; the popular Zynga (News - Alert) word-building game can count a number of celebrities as fans, including Edward Norton, who will be playing in a celebrity tournament of the game this Thursday.

Norton will join fellow actor Jonah Hill and rapper Snoop Lion (née Dogg), in a growing list of celebrities slated to participate in the “Words with Friends” charity event.

Norton will be playing for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Fund, which will receive $50,000 in prize money if the actor wins. 

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The winnings will be contributed by American Express (News - Alert), and the tournament will include non-celebrities who can join their favorite stars’ teams, or watch the tournament online. Donations to the charities involved will be received through Norton’s fundraising website,

“We had the idea to do a celebrity tournament some time ago when it became apparent that the game was a hit among celebrities,” said senior vice president of mobile at Zynga Inc., Travis Boatman. How much of a hit is it? Norton is a prime example.

“I have to give myself time-outs on ‘Words with Friends.’ I’ve gone through phases where I’m like, ‘What am I doing? This is much too much of my day,” said the actor, who recently starred in Wes Anderson’s indie darling “Moonrise Kingdom.” 

Other celebrity players in the mix will include Kristen Bell, John Legend and Eva Longoria.

“It seems like everyone from Katie Couric to Snoop Lion is into the game,” said Boatman, “It’s really inspirational for the team to see how ‘Words with Friends’ has become part of the cultural mainstream, and I think it has struck a chord because it’s not just a game, it’s a way for people to connect and keep in touch with each other.”

There will be a few sports stars involved as well--Norton will be facing off against Boston Celtics captain Paul “The Truth” Pierce, playing for his own foundation, The Truth Fund.

As a real enthusiast, Norton isn’t worried.

“I think it’s going to be a tough first round for him. I think it’s great that he has a cause he supports, and I hope the amount he gets from just the first round is going to make him happy because I don’t think it’s going to go past there,” teased Norton.

One unlikely component who is worrying Norton, however, is Snoop Lion--the actor expressed concern about going up against a rapper because of the experience Lion must have with wordplay.

Norton even has a suggestion for next year’s event: add Alec Baldwin to the roster. The actor was kicked off a flight for refusing to stop playing the game, so Norton thinks he’d make good competition in ‘Words with Friends.’

“Next year, for sure, if I have any say in it,” said Norton. "I'm going to win this year, so adding him to the mix next year will make it interesting for me."

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Austin 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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