9 MAY 2004 AP/Associated Press

KEENE, N.H. (AP) - If you thought the presidential primary had come and gone,
think again. A new Showtime "reality TV" series purporting to find someone with
the right stuff to be president will film its first episode in Keene next month,
city officials said. Twelve contestants on "American Candidate" will have
five days to shake hands, kiss babies and persuade city residents they
would make a good president.

Mayor Michael Blastos said Thursday the show's creator recently asked him
if the city would be interested in hosting the first episode, which will
be shot June 10-15.

Date: Tue, 6 Apr 2004 14:17:44 -0700
From: American Candidate Admin 

Hello American Candidate applicant!

Just a friendly reminder that application / video deadline 
must be postmarked  by Fri April 9th. If you have already 
sent your app in, thank you! 

We are busy helping each one of you fill out a Web page as
fast as possible on our We appreciate 
your patience!

You will only be notified if we are interested in meeting 
you prior to the taping of our show. If we are interested 
in you, we will notify you around May 1st. We will then 
fly you into LA for 4 days from May 7-10th. We will be 
taping the show from approx. early June to mid July.

We are quite busy in the office at this point.  
Most questions can be answered on our FAQ's. Thank you for your interest. Amrican Candidate Casting

You have received this email because you downloaded an application to American Candidate. You will NOT receive further email from us unless you send in an application....


american candidate - the search has begun 18 AND OVER WELCOME, DEADLINE EXTENDED

Due to an enthusiastic response from people of all ages,
American Candidate will now accept applications from Americans
18 years and older.

The application deadline for all applicants has been extended to
April 9.

The winner of American Candidate will receive $200,000
a nationwide media appearance to occur after the conclusion
of the series so that the "American Candidate" can make his or her
address to the nation.

Subject: American Candidate casting update
Date:  Tue, 10 Feb 2004 18:08:58 -0800
From: American Candidate Admin 

Dear American Candidate applicants:


Subject: Application Update: Campaign Manager Change
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2004 12:23:18 -0800
From: American Candidate Admin 

Dear American Candidate applicants:

We're writing to give you an update on the application process:

We have removed the "campaign manager" requirement (Question #21) 
from the application. You will no longer be required to choose someone
you know as your campaign manager.

If you have already sent in your application, please do not resend it. 
If you have not, please  skip the "campaign manager" question. There
is no need to download a new application.


Thank you,

American Candidate Outreach

Press Release
Source: Showtime Networks Inc.

Thursday January 8, 10:49 am ET 

Showtime to Introduce 'AMERICAN CANDIDATE'
Crunch-time for R.J. Cutler (filmmaker)

Government's Federal Election Commission Says The Show Will Comply With Election Law NEW YORK, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Showtime Networks will become the campaign headquarters for AMERICAN CANDIDATE starting this summer. Unscripted and unprecedented, AMERICAN CANDIDATE is a 10-episode, one-hour reality series from Academy Award¨-nominated and Emmy¨-winning documentary filmmmaker R.J. Cutler ("The War Room," "American High," Showtime's FRESHMAN DIARIES), executive producer Jay Roach (director of "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "Meet the Parents") and executive producer Tom Lassally ("Stay"). The announcement was made today by Robert Greenblatt, President of Entertainment for Showtime Networks Inc., following the recent Federal Election Commission's positive advisory opinion that the content of the show will not violate federal election laws.

Relaxed Robert Greenblatt (Showtime Mucky-Muck)
In "American Idol" fashion, this series will attempt to identify one individual who has the qualifications and qualities to be President of the United States. The show will debut with 12 contestants from all walks of life. Over the course of the next 10 weeks, those 12 will face-off against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their presidential mettle and to show viewers what really goes on in the making of a presidential candidate. Week-by-week, the original pool of candidates will be winnowed down through audience participation and polling. The final episode will be a showdown between the remaining two candidates, and one person will emerge victorious -- the "American Candidate" -- by proving that he or she has what it takes to run for the highest office in the land. "The ideas upon which this country was built -- that anyone can run for public office and each voice counts -- seem to be a thing of the past," Greenblatt said. "This show, which is designed to find the ideal 'American candidate' from out of obscurity, will try to change all that. In the hands of these extraordinary producers, I think it will have amazing relevance to our country in a presidential election year -- and who knows, maybe our winner will actually decide to enter the race." Cutler comments, "American Candidate is going to engage people in the political process in a way that has never been done before. Television has always been the most powerful medium for candidates to get their message across to the voting public. While there is no doubt that this will be highly entertaining, we believe it will be an examination of the process and address serious political issues." With involvement from bi-partisan advisors, this unique series is designed to find an unknown leader from the ranks of ordinary citizens who could catapult to national prominence and demonstrate that he or she possesses the leadership capabilities and talent to be President. Using grass-roots efforts and the power of television, the show's contestants will mirror the activities of the actual presidential candidates. In addition, they will be put through the rigorous paces of anyone running for this office. They will engage in debates, hold political rallies, receive the advice of seasoned political strategists, create advertisements, select running mates, have their backgrounds scrutinized by the press and engage in opposition research. Everything is fair game. AMERICAN CANDIDATE will maintain an active presence on the Internet. Its web site,, will accept applications from eligible Americans. Applications can also be obtained by calling 877-RUN-2004 (877-786-2004). The web site will launch on Thursday, January 8. A five-month selection process will narrow the pool to 12 finalists. These contestants will be introduced to the nation on the premiere episode on Showtime. Candidates will maintain their own homepages on which they can present their qualifications, platforms and visions for the country. They can also use the homepages as organizing tools to recruit volunteers, organize events and otherwise promote their issues. The AMERICAN CANDIDATE web site will offer information about contestant schedules and events, streaming media, message boards, chat rooms and other content. Showtime will promote the series on the network's Web site,, as well. Cutler is an Emmy¨ and Peabody award winner, and has been an Academy Award¨ and Independent Spirit Award nominee. His production company, Actual Reality Pictures, specializes in the creation and production of non-fiction film and television projects, which include Showtime's FRESHMAN DIARIES, Discovery Health Network's "The Residents" and VH-1's "Military Diaries." Cutler also created, directed and executive produced the Fox and PBS series "American High" which received the 2001 Emmy¨ Award for Outstanding Reality Program. As a filmmaker, Cutler began his career as the producer of "The War Room," which was nominated for an Academy Award and was named Best Documentary of the Year by the National Board of Review. Cutler also directed and produced the feature documentary "A Perfect Candidate" and he directed, produced and co-wrote the short film "Anita Liberty." Tom Lassally is the principal partner in Kustom Entertainment, a management/production company. Lassally is currently in production on the feature project "Stay," directed by Marc Forster and starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. Lassally will soon begin pre-production on his next project "87' Fleer" by Alex Tse, with Paul Hunter attached to direct. Before forming Kustom Entertainment, Mr. Lassally was a longtime executive at Warner Bros. He joined the studio as Vice-President of Theatrical Production before rising to Executive Vice-President in 1995. He supervised such movies as "Heat," "Time To Kill," "Batman Forever," "Analyze This" and "Any Given Sunday." Jay Roach made his feature directorial debut with the break out hit "Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery" and returned for the blockbuster sequels "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" and "Austin Powers in Goldmember." After helming the small-town comedy, "Mystery, Alaska," Roach went on to direct "Meet The Parents," starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, which broke box office records and was acclaimed by critics. Roach is in pre-production on "Meet The Fockers," scheduled for release in December, 2004, through Universal. Roach's company, Everyman Pictures, is actively involved in feature and TV development and production through an overall deal at Twentieth Century Fox. Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom Inc., owns the premium television networks SHOWTIME¨, THE MOVIE CHANNEL(TM) and FLIX¨, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME¨ TOO(TM), SHOWTIME¨ SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME¨, SHOWTIME BEYOND¨, SHOWTIME NEXT¨, SHOWTIME WOMEN¨, SHOWTIME FAMILYZONE¨ and TMC xtra. SNI also offers SHOWTIME HD¨, THE MOVIE CHANNEL HD¨, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND¨ and THE MOVIE CHANNEL ON DEMAND(TM). SNI operates and manages the premium television network SUNDANCE CHANNEL¨, which is owned by SNI, Robert Redford and Universal Studios. All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital 5.1. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME¨ PPV. Additionally, the advertiser-supported television network SHOWTIME EXTREME¨ is available in Spain through a joint venture with Media Park and the advertiser-supported television network SHOWTIME is available in Turkey through a joint venture with UK-based Zone Vision. Source: Showtime Networks Inc.

FEC says 'American Candidate' reality
show qualifies for media exemption from
campaign rules 

Thursday, December 18, 2003 

(12-18) 12:18 PST WASHINGTON (AP) -- 

A new reality television series that will pit Americans against
each other in a make-believe presidential race won't have to
worry about complying with campaign finance laws. 

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday gave its approval
to a plan by Viacom and its Showtime Network subsidiary to
produce and air "American Candidate," a series whose
contestants will test their political skills over a pretend,
three- or four-month presidential campaign. 

Viacom and Showtime had asked the commission whether the
program would fall under a media exemption that would allow
it to mention actual presidential candidates and have them
appear on the show without running afoul of campaign finance
rules, which include a ban on corporate contributions to
federal campaigns. 

The FEC said the program qualified for the exemption and that
it could go as far as calling for real candidate's election or

The National Rifle Association had urged the FEC to reject the
request, arguing that entertainment programming such as the
Showtime show doesn't fall under the media exemption. 

The NRA recently said it was considering acquiring a radio or
TV station and going to the FEC or to court to argue it should
qualify for the media exemption itself, allowing it to say what
it wants about candidates whenever it wants. The new campaign
finance law bans the NRA and other groups from using
corporate money to run ads targeting candidates close to

Commissioner Michael Toner said the NRA's arguments about
the Viacom request might have merit, but he didn't want to read
the campaign finance law to require the FEC to regulate the
content of reality-TV shows. 

Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinion Number 2003-34

Back to Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinions Search Page Federal Election Commission Main Page CERTIFIED MAIL December 19, 2003 RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED ADVISORY OPINION 2003-34 Jan Witold Baran, Esq. Wiley, Rein & Fielding, LLP 1776 K Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008 Dear Mr. Baran: This responds to your letters dated October 16 and October 29, 2003, requesting an advisory opinion on behalf of Viacom, Inc. ("Viacom"), its wholly owned subsidiary, Showtime Networks, Inc. ("Showtime"), and TMD Productions, Inc. ("TMD"), concerning the application of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended ("the Act"), and Commission regulations to the funding, production, airing, and other distribution of a "reality documentary series" entitled American Candidate. Background You state that Viacom is a global media company. Showtime owns and operates the Showtime television network. Showtime has contracted with TMD to produce American Candidate. Neither Viacom, Showtime, any of their corporate affiliates or subsidiaries, nor TMD is owned or controlled by any political party, political committee or candidate. Showtime intends to produce and distribute a fictional depiction of a presidential campaign entitled American Candidate. American Candidate will simulate a presidential campaign involving American citizens who compete in a series of events designed to test their political skills while being filmed over a three-to-four month period. You assert that the program will serve as social commentary on the American political system as well as political leadership and character in America in an "entertaining reality format."

You assert that the contestants will not be actual candidates and will not be "testing the waters" for a candidacy for public office. Each potential contestant must sign a release that provides that he or she will be automatically disqualified from participation in the American Candidate series if the contestant becomes a candidate or explores an actual candidacy for any public office. Contestants may be depicted soliciting donations to charitable organizations; all such donations would be donated directly to the charities. There will be no fundraising related to actual Federal candidates, officeholders, or committees. Also, each contestant will be prohibited from receiving any monetary contributions to his or her American Candidate campaign. It is possible that the series will depict actual Federal candidates on the campaign trail, and include appearances by Federal candidates to enhance the competition between the contestants. These appearances, as well as reactions by the contestants or other guest commentators, may include references to actual Federal officeholders or candidates, again in the context of engaging the contestants in a realistic simulation. Viacom and Showtime will operate two websites related to the American Candidate series. The first website will serve as an "application website" featuring contestant application forms, entry rules, other contestant related materials, and press releases promoting the series. The second website will serve as the "series website." The websites will be used to promote the series, feature the contestants, track the series and provide updates, and educate the public about actual political campaigns. Each of the final contestants may be provided a personalized page on the series website to advertise his or her simulated campaign and interact directly with viewers and fans.

Legal Analysis and Conclusions You ask several questions pertaining to the application of the Act and Commission regulations to the American Candidate series. Under the factual circumstances described in your request, the Commission concludes that the series, a work of fiction that is not intended to influence a Federal election, is generally not subject to regulation under the Act. Thus, editorial and production decisions, including such decisions as with whom to consult and to employ in the production of the series (e.g., the selection and use of consultants and advisors), are outside the scope of the Act. To the extent that an actual Federal candidate or officeholder is depicted or discussed in the series as it is promoted, broadcast, cablecast, or webcast, including depictions or discussions that constitute "express advocacy," the Commission concludes that there will be no contribution, expenditure, or electioneering communication under the "press exemptions." 2 U.S.C. 431(9)(B)(i), 434(f)(3)(B)(i). The Act prohibits "any corporation whatever" from making any contribution or expenditure in connection with a Federal election. 2 U.S.C. 441b(a). The Act and Commission regulations define the terms "contribution" and "expenditure" to include any gift of money or "anything of value" for the purpose of influencing a Federal election. The Act and Commission regulations exempt from the definition of "contribution" and "expenditure": Any cost incurred in covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial by any broadcast station (including a cable television operator, programmer, or producer), newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, is not a contribution [or expenditure] unless the facility is owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate . . . 11 CFR 100.73 and 100.132; 2 U.S.C. 431(9)(B)(i). The Act and Commission regulations also include a similar exemption at 2 U.S.C. 434(f)(3)(B)(i) and 11 CFR 100.29(c)(2) with respect to electioneering communications, which would otherwise be prohibited by a corporation. Several factors must be present to conclude that the proposed activity falls within the press exemption of 2 U.S.C. 431(9)(B)(i) and 434(f)(3)(B)(i). First, the entity engaging in the activity must be a press entity as described by the Act and Commission regulations. See Advisory Opinions 2000-13, 1998-17, 1996-48, 1996-41, 1996-16 and advisory opinions cited therein. Furthermore, an application of the press exemption depends upon the two-part framework presented in Reader's Digest Association v. FEC, 509 F.Supp. 1210, 1215 (S.D.N.Y. 1981): (1) Whether the press entity is owned or controlled by a political party, political committee, or candidate; and (2) Whether the press entity is acting as a press entity in conducting the activity at issue (i.e., whether the entity is acting in its "legitimate press function"). See also FEC v. Phillips Publishing, 517 F.Supp.1308, 1312-1313 (D.D.C. 1981); Advisory Opinions 2000-13, 1996-48, and 1982-44.

The Commission concludes that the requestors are press entities, are not owned or controlled by a political party, political committee, or candidate, and that American Candidate is "commentary," within the meaning of the Act and the regulations. If the American Candidate series is produced as indicated in your request, Viacom, Showtime, or TMD will be engaging in a legitimate press function. See Reader's Digest Association, 509 F.Supp. at 1215. Therefore, to the extent that actual Federal candidates or officeholders are depicted or discussed in the series or the websites, no contribution or expenditure will result from payments for the production (including payments received for "product placements"), promotion, distribution, or licensing of rights, even if statements that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified Federal candidate are included. 2 U.S.C. 431(9)(B)(i). Similarly, no broadcast or cablecast of the series will constitute an electioneering communication. 2 U.S.C. 434(f)(3)(B)(i).2 This response constitutes an advisory opinion concerning the application of the Act and Commission regulations to the specific transactions or activities set forth in your request. See 2 U.S.C. 437f. The Commission emphasizes that, if there is a change in any of the facts or assumptions presented, and such facts or assumptions are material to a conclusion presented in this opinion, then the requestor may not rely on that conclusion as support for its proposed activity. The Commission does not undertake a constitutional analysis in this advisory opinion, since its interpretation of the press exemptions at 2 U.S.C. 431(9)(B)(i) and 434(f)(3)(B)(i), themselves clearly drawn with the First Amendment in mind, provide sufficient guidance. The Commission expresses no opinion regarding the applicability of the Communications Act of 1934, or of regulations promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission, to the the proposed activities because those questions are outside the Commission's jurisdiction. Sincerely, (signed) Ellen L. Weintraub Chair Enclosures (AOs 2000-13, 1998-17, 1996-48, 1996-41, 1996-16, and 1982-44) _______________________________ 1 The Commission assumes, without deciding, that TMD is a press entity. However, even if it is not, it is the type of production company that press entities typically employ for the purposes of creating documentaries and other informational content, especially where, as here, final editorial discretion rests with an entity that is a press entity. 2 If, notwithstanding a contestant's agreement to the release, a contestant explores an actual candidacy for public office, then funds received and payments made by the contestant solely for the purpose of "testing the waters" may be excluded from the definitions of "contribution" and "expenditure." 11 CFR 100.72 and 100.131. However, if a contestant becomes an actual candidate or makes public statements to that effect, then the exceptions in 11 CFR 100.72 and 100.131 will not apply. Only funds permissible under the Act may be used for the "testing the waters" activities permitted under 11 CFR 100.72 and 100.131.