When American Candidate debuts on the Showtime cable network August 1, a Gaston County man will be one of the 10 "people's candidates" to compete for cash and a national TV forum for his or her views.
Park Gillespie's a 38-year-old teacher who impressed show producers and is the only "people's candidate" from the Southeast. Judging from his online "platform," he's going to reinforce some Bible Belt political stereotypes. A Republican who cites George W. Bush as his favorite president, Gillespie is pro-life and has an idea for tax reform: "there should be no more automatic withdrawals through payroll deduction. If every person had to cut a check to federal, state and local governments we would see a fiscal revolution."
A spin on reality shows, American Candidate wants to choose one person with the qualities and qualifications to become President of the United States. One of the 12 "candidates" will be eliminated each week, until the last two face off in the finale. The winner gets $200,000 and a national media forum to address the nation.
Kind of a giggle if you think about it, but how else do you get national political publicity without an Ivy League diploma, millions in your personal checking account, or cash raised at $1,000-a-plate dinners? It can't be any stranger than the real race for president.
You can check out Gillespie and the show's website at american.candidate.com.
Good summer ratings aren't the only thing WSOC-TV is happy about. There's also its Gimme the Mike talent show. The American Idol clone doesn't exactly boast the best talent in the world, but hey, it's our karaoke people.
It's not a WSOC-TV creation, by the way. It's a franchise created by the Post-Newsweek TV station group. Gimme the Mike is also unfolding in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Oakland, and Atlanta.
A local TV marketing guru at a competing media outlet says it's a moneymaker for the station in a rerun-plagued summer. She says, "there are opportunities for sponsorships and billboards, which means more dollars for the spots. At the same time, they did the safe thing and hired an outside talent (host Dave Temple) to prevent any association with their news department."
The live finale is July 28. Stay tuned.
E-mail at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com.