(OLD) SHOWTIME "AMERICAN CANDIDATE"
NEWS & OFFICIAL UPDATES (EARLIEST)
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.
Subject: REMINDER: APPLICATIONS POSTMARKED BY FRIDAY!
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 AmeircanCandidate.com. We appreciate
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....
26 FEB 2004 MAJOR RULE CHANGE
(TEXT FROM OFFICIAL SITE HIGHLIGHTED BY BOKE)
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
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:
IF SELECTED FOR THE SHOW YOUR NEW TIME COMMITMENT HAS
BEEN REDUCED FROM 10 WEEKS DOWN TO APPROXIMATELY 7
WEEKS THIS SUMMER!!
DEADLINE REMINDER FEBRUARY 23RD.
American Candidate Outreach
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.
American Candidate Outreach
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, www.americancandidate.com, 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, sho.com, 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
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
Source: Showtime Networks Inc.
FEC says 'American Candidate' reality
show qualifies for media exemption from
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
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.
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
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
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,
the proposed activities because those questions are outside the
Ellen L. Weintraub
Enclosures (AOs 2000-13, 1998-17, 1996-48, 1996-41, 1996-16, and
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.