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New FX reality show to 'nominate' American presidential candidate

By Reality TV World staff, 09/23/2002 

Reuters reports that inspired by the success of the Fox hit "American Idol," sister cable network FX is developing a reality show called "American Candidate" that will choose a "people's" nominee for president in 2004. FX said on Friday it has teamed up for the show with R.J. Cutler, the documentary veteran behind the Oscar-nominated film "The War Room," which chronicled Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign for president. Joining him on the project will be director Jay Roach ("Austin Powers") and producer Tom Lassally ("Totally Hidden Video").

They will be looking for natural-born leaders among the ranks of ordinary Americans to take part in a made-for-TV campaign that Cutler said would test the openness of America's political system. The winning candidate on the show will then decide whether to mount a real-life campaign for the White House. If so, a series of documentary specials will be produced following the candidate through Election Day.

The process will begin early next year with a panel of experts choosing an initial group of 100 candidates from applicants who fill out questionnaires accompanied by videotaped pitches of why they would make a good president. Applicants also must submit petitions signed by at least 50 supporters from their community.

The 100 semi-finalists, two from each state, will be introduced to viewers on the first of at least 13 episodes, probably in January 2004, as the real-life U.S. presidential campaign is getting under way.

In subsequent episodes, each broadcast live from a famous American location, like Mount Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty, the candidates will compete in debates and other campaign-related contests in a game of elimination that will narrow the field to three finalists by the final show.

The candidates will be judged according to a point system that will factor in competition results, live audience response and viewer voting via telephone and the Internet.

The final episode will be broadcast as an "American Candidate" convention, held on the National Mall in Washington around July 4, 2004 -- about the time Republicans and Democrats are preparing for their national conventions. In a live episode, viewers will then determine the winning candidate from the three finalists.

Besides having 50 supporters, candidates will have to meet the U.S. constitutional requirements for being president -- they must be a native-born American citizen, at least 35 years old as of Jan. 20, 2005 (the date they would assume office) and have lived in the United States for the past seven years.


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