SHOWTIME press release July 13, 2004


Series Features Political Strategists Including Joe Trippi, Edward Rollins, Carter Eskew, Bay Buchanan, Richard Bond, Frank Luntz and Tony Frabrizio

LOS ANGELES, July 13, 2004 -- Ten candidates from across the country have been chosen to compete in Showtime Networks’ unscripted and unprecedented reality series, AMERICAN CANDIDATE. The series focuses on six men and four women of various ages, backgroundsand political views, including Independents, Democrats, Republicans, Greens and
Libertarians. The ten candidates who will vie to become the “American Candidate” are Keith Boykin, Bruce Friedrich, Chrissy Gephardt, Park Gillespie, Malia Lazu, Richard Mack, Joyce Riley, Jim Strock, Bob Vanech and Lisa Witter.

AMERICAN CANDIDATE premieres on Sunday, August 1 at 9:00 PM ET/PT and is hosted by Emmy® Award-winning talk show host Montel Williams.

The 10-episode, one-hour program is created by Academy Award?-nominated and Emmy?-winning documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler (“The War Room,” “American High,” Showtime’s FRESHMAN DIARIES) and executive produced by Cutler, Jay Roach (director of  “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” “Meet the Parents”) and Tom Lassally (“Stay”).

Week-by-week, candidates will face-off against each other in a series of challenges designed to identify one individual who has the qualities to be President of the United States.  Episodes of AMERICAN CANDIDATE will feature well-known political experts who advise the candidates on the challenges they will face. These consultants help the candidates shape their messages and campaigns, as well as give advice on everything from political ad creation and media coaching to image consulting and polling.

The advisors include Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, who recently advised Governor Howard Dean on his presidential bid; Edward Rollins, who served in the administrations of Nixon, Ford and Reagan; Democratic strategist Carter Eskew, who was chief strategist for the Gore presidential campaign; Bay Buchanan, political analyst and President of The American Cause, an educational foundation dedicated to advancing traditional conservative issues; Richard Bond, who held posts at the Republican National Committee under presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush; political pollster and focus group expert Frank Luntz; and Republican research expert Tony Frabrizio, who served as chief pollster and strategist to Bob Dole's Presidential campaign.

The first episode of AMERICAN CANDIDATE debuts with 10 contestants from all walks of life. Over the course of 10 weeks, they will participate in a fierce competition designed to test their presidential mettle and to show viewers what really goes on in the making of a presidential candidate. Each week, the original pool of candidates will be winnowed down as contestants are eliminated. However, even those eliminated could re-appear as vice-presidential running mates later in the contest – as recently witnessed with the re-emergence of John Edwards on the real-life Democratic ticket. The final episode will be a debate showdown between the remaining two candidates, and one person will emerge victorious -- the “American Candidate.”

KEITH BOYKIN is a 38-year-old from St. Louis, who worked as a special assistant to President Clinton. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Boykin lives in New York, where he is an author, lecturer, activist and president of the board of the National Black Justice Coalition.

BRUCE FRIEDRICH is a 34-year-old from the Midwest now based in D.C. A committed vegetarian and animal rights activist, he believes his Roman Catholic tenets of mercy and compassion extend to all species, and he is currently a Director with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

CHRISSY GEPHARDT is a 31-year-old from Missouri who resides in Washington, DC, and is a spokesperson for the Stonewall Democrats, a voter recruitment organization. She is the daughter of Rep. Dick Gephardt and her principle issues are universal health care, public education and community building.

PARK GILLESPIE is a 38-year-old public school teacher from North Carolina and a married father of four. He is a conservative who is a small business owner who strongly supports the war on terror, market based solutions to grow the economy and providing healthcare for all.

MALIA LAZU is a 27-year-old with progressive views. Originally from Hawaii with strong political ties to Boston, she now resides in D.C, where she organizes voter turnout in urban minority communities, and is working to repeal voting laws that prohibit felons from voting.

RICHARD MACK is a 51-year-old former Arizona sheriff. Opposed to most government regulations, especially gun controls laws, the Utah native’s first-hand experience in the drug war has convinced him marijuana should be decriminalized.

JOYCE RILEY is a 55-year-old former combat nurse from Missouri who is a staunch advocate of veterans’ issues and Constitutional rights. She hosts a radio talk show with her husband.

JIM STROCK is a 47-year-old, born in Austin, who served as California’s first secretary of the environment, and as chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. EPA. The author and consultant resides in Scottsdale and San Francisco, and his chief issues are winning the war on terror, small business empowerment and restoring Americans’ faith in our future.

BOB VANECH is a 36-year-old venture capitalist and educator from Los Angeles, and a married father of three. The Connecticut native wants to scale back government spending, crack down on corporate fraud, and overhaul the public education system.

LISA WITTER is a 31-year-old who manages a 45-person consultancy business based in New York. A product of a blue-collar upbringing in Everett, WA, she is committed to providing health care for the uninsured, strengthening our economy and bringing our troops home from Iraq.

Viewers will follow the group of contestants as they campaign across the United States, engaging in debates, holding political rallies and being scrutinized by the press. On each show, the contestants will perform under pressure, as they participate in competitions that test their political know-how. Each candidate has brought with them a campaign manager of their choosing, a close friend or co-worker who will help them with strategy and messaging. The candidates are kept in the dark along the way and do not know what the next contest will be nor where it will take place. Host Montel Williams will inform them of their next
challenge. Candidates will engage in polling, design media strategies and seek the counsel of seasoned political operatives.

The series will emulate an actual campaign by exploring grassroots organization and “retail” politics that define the caucus and primary season. The show illustrates “wholesale” aspects of campaigning, including political advertising, media management, coalition building and large scale debates, which imitate the general election. Each episode will place the candidates in a different community that represents a key constituency -- a rural community one week; an urban the next. The better the candidates do, the more access they will have to the political advisors who will counsel their campaigns.

Each week, a candidate will be determined the “front runner” of the competition for that episode and will automatically be permitted to stay. The two candidates who finish last in the competition will participate in an “elimination debate” where they will have to convince their fellow candidates why they should vote for them to stay. The candidate who receives the least amount of votes will be eliminated from the show.

During the final two weeks of the series, the American public can vote to elect the winner of AMERICAN CANDIDATE. The winner of AMERICAN CANDIDATE will receive $200,000 and 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.