It was 2013 the first time it happened.
Matthew Shapiro was living in Los Angeles, where he works as a digital director and editor, when he received a rather baffling email asking him if he was available for a shoot. He quickly realized that the email was not intended for him.
Now, he has a guess as to who that email was for — one of the other Matthew Shapiros who attended his college.
That email was just the beginning of mix-ups that reached a fever pitch over the summer, when New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts sent out an email blast congratulating him on his Emmy for his work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
The email erred in specifying Matthew Shapiro, class of 2011, instead of the Matthew Shapiro who had actually worked on the hit Amazon series and had graduated in 2006.
That Shapiro is an alum of Solomon Schechter Day School and Akiba Hebrew Academy (now Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy). He initially declined to comment for this story.
The other Shapiro, on the other hand, is also Jewish but is originally from Connecticut. Still, he has done work for DreamWorksTV and Funny Or Die and has written for The Onion and Reductress.
“They just kind of messed up the classes,” Shapiro, ’11, said. “It wasn’t a huge deal. I just thought it was funny.”
He forwarded the email to some friends, asking for their congratulations.
Then, he received two letters from Tisch Dean Allyson Green in the mail.
“Your fans at Tisch were excited to see you win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series for your work as co-producer on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel this year,” the letter read. “You are an inspiration to the Tisch School of the Arts students working to follow in your footsteps, and a leading example to your peers in the industry.”
Once again, he had received someone else’s mail, only this time he set out to deliver the letters to the Emmy-winning, Philly-connected Shapiro. He asked some of his friends with Hollywood connections if they knew of a way to get in touch with him. He also reached out to a few he found online, but his queries led nowhere.
He pushed the goal to the back of his mind, where it stayed until October.
That’s when his father emailed an Exponent article, “Akiba Alum Makes Mark with Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and suggested he contact the author.
He sent an email to the Exponent with “Matt Shapiro of the ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’” as its subject line. “This is going to be difficult to explain, but my name is also Matt Shapiro,” he wrote. “I also went to Tisch, and I’ve received a lot of accidental letters of congratulations for the work of the other Matt Shapiro. I was wondering if you have his email and if you would be willing to get these letters to the better Matt Shapiro?”
He signed his email, “Matt Shapiro (the other one?).”
Finally, months after the search began, the two were able to connect through the efforts of the Exponent.
Shapiro finally sent the letters, and the other Shapiro told him that he had heard of him through his video compilation editing work.
The problem? Shapiro did not do video compilation editing work.
It seemed there was a third Shapiro, who graduated from Tisch in 2014 and who used to create an annual series on YouTube called Cinescape. Shapiro, ’11, suspected that the email he had received years before, in 2013, was intended for this third Shapiro.
“I’ve never gotten in touch with [the third Shapiro],” Shapiro said, “I did tell Matt Shapiro that the three of us should get a drink or something.”
Shapiro said he hasn’t heard of something like this happening before, though he’s sure it probably has.
“[One of my friends] said it was kind of like a Charlie Kaufman movie, which I think is true,” Shapiro said.