HOLLYWOOD (CAP) - When Fred Thompson threw his hat into the presidential ring several weeks ago, many political observers assumed that the issue of equal time would become a dominant one due to Thompson's work on the television series Law & Order. Few could have predicted that straight-talking Arizona maverick John McCain would also have a part to play.
Hollywood producer Sy Epstein filed a complaint today with the Federal Elections Commission requesting that his movie, Grumpy Old Pols, be cleared for national release.
The Grumpy Old Men remake starring Thompson and McCain as cantankerous conservatives taking one last shot at electoral glory has been held up by the FEC for the past several months due to concerns over equal time, the election clause that stipulates that candidates running for office must be allowed the same access to media exposure as all other candidates.
"Their concern is that the added exposure of a major Hollywood release would give an unfair advantage to Fred and John as candidates for President, but I just don't see that as being the case," Epstein said at a press conference outside his Burbank offices. "If anything, it would only hurt them. Look at Fred: leads in the polls by a wide margin. Stick a camera in his hummina-hummina-ahshucks face and his numbers plummet like a stone."
Campaigning outside of El Amatillo, Honduras, John McCain reflected on his second acting role and urged the FEC to release the film.
"Fred approached me about doing the moving picture and I said, well, if it's a talkie, count me in," McCain said during a break from his judging duties a the El Amatillo Festivale del Quroppinnabarn (Harvest Festival). "I just hope they clear it for release soon. Mom really wants to see her Johnny in a picture, and she's not getting any younger, despite her excellent McCain genes."
Fred Thompson could not be located to comment for this article.
If the FEC releases the movie for distribution, it could open the floodgates for a host of candidate appearances in movies and on television. Several candidates have admitted to being in talks with a number of shows and other projects, including Desperate Housewives (Hillary Rodham Clinton), 24 (Rudy Giuliani), and Blazing Saddles II: The Return of Sheriff Bart (Barack Obama).
The FEC will take up the issue of Grumpy Old Pols at its next meeting early next month.
- Rich Gray