October 13th, 2010
07:14 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama town hall gets Hollywood treatment

Washington (CNN) -In what appears to be an unprecedented move, the audience at President Obama's town hall meeting Thursday may include people found through a casting call, which was advertised on a web site for actors.

MTV, BET and CMT are the three networks sponsoring the event, which will be held at BET headquarters in Washington D.C.

The invitation to participate in the event was posted on the sponsor's web sites and through social media. But it was Back Stage, which bills itself as an online resource for actors, models and other performers, that stirred up controversy when it posted a casting call notice for the same event.

Back Stage, which has helped to fill roles for "reality-based projects," said it was seeking "males and females, 18+" for "A Conversation With President Obama."

This tactic raised eyebrows and drew criticism leaving the White House to distance itself from the seat filling process.

An aide said "we're not building the crowd. You'll have to check with our hosts at MTV."

CNN contacted Kelly McAndrew, a spokesperson for MTV's parent company, Viacom, who said they never referred to the invitation as a casting call. But she acknowledged that more than 500 people who responded to the invitation were pre-screened, were asked to submit a current photo of themselves, and show up for a face-to-face meeting.

"We're going to have a very diverse looking audience," said McAndrew. "We want gender diversity, we want ethnicity diversity, we want religious diversity, we want political view diversity. We want diversity of all kinds."

Reached by phone, Back Stage national casting editor Luke Crowe said it was his writer that added "casting" to the notice. And while the original language did not include that word, the invitation was originally found on MTV's online casting call page for shows like The Real World.

Crowe, who now finds himself in the middle of a controversy, said he didn't intend to cause any problems for MTV or the White House. He posted a note on the Back Stage web site to try and set the record straight.

"It seemed like a clever way to engage young people in politics," he wrote. "But I certainly didn't think it was controversial, and would never have expected the attention it's now receiving.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Kenneth Close

    Why do American Voters watch these so called Town Hall's : All are rigged I guess no one cares!!

    October 13, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  2. Four and The Door

    Busted! This is priceless. Not like I give a hoot about who Obama gets as a cheering section, but the Democrats and their supporters were in such an uproar about an actor being used in a Republican commercial. It was a commercial for crying out loud...I expected to see an actor! Who doesn't?

    October 13, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. George of the jungle

    Well it sounds good and they beat the repos in doing this so I am sure the repos will holler . But you can't tell me half the repo stuff isn't staged so it is not like the white house asked them to do this.so get over it . What ever works Vote the repos out let's go forward no backwards.

    October 13, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  4. terry, va

    Obummie is a fool and the kids that follow him on MTV and BET are too. How sad for the country and how sad for the taxpayers. No money coming in to the government equals no money coming out. Talk to the people that support the country Obummie !!!

    October 13, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. snakesbeer

    Pres Obama is a star and should be surrounded by movie stars.

    Movie stars are smarter than the average voter.

    October 13, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. kingwue

    the failure in chief has proven what he is, the worse pres ever, any persons no matter what diversity should be able to see that.

    October 13, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  7. Barry

    That's pretty Pathetic. Is there nothing too low for Obama and his cronies to pull and the media jumped on the West Virginia ad. Amazing how the Democrats get away with calling a lady a whore, accusing someone with no facts of illegal campaign donations, and now casting for a Town Hall. The Democrats are such losers. The good news is the majority of them will lose their job here in a few days. Oh and the administration trying to distance it's self from this, how do you do that? I'm surprised CNN even reported about it, of course it was written to protect the President as much as possible and they won't hold it at the top of the Ticker for a day like they did the West Virginia story. Unreal!

    October 13, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  8. George of the jungle

    what ever the president does draws criticism from the repos. At this point who cares anymore. Do what you have to do. The rpos will hollar about everything. Does anyone listen to these unchristian immoral racist teabagers anymore anyway??

    October 13, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. lauperzone

    "A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

    "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery." - Winston Churchill

    "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!" - P.J. O'Rourke


    October 13, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  10. jenn, philadelphia

    Having actors in a town hall meeting? They couldn't find any one who would agree with the President without getting paid to appear? Oh right, the White House just gets to say they had nothing to do with the guest list. Aren't these the same people who criticized a Republican election commercial for using actors? As usual, with the Democrats it's do as I say not as I do.

    October 13, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  11. southern cousin

    MTV is billing this as a non partisan event, but of course they won't invite Republicans or give them equal time. That is the Democat liberal idea of non partisanship. They learned it from their corrupt, lying union bosses who bought and paid for them long ago. And of course our lying, corrupt, inept, incompetent, union toady president is at the top of the crap heap.

    October 13, 2010 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. Greg

    They can say what they want, but unless they put out an open invitation and close the invites once the seats are full, they are DEFINATELY loading the audience.......pre-screening...HA! We can't have Obummer being blind-sided by someone asking a tough question off-script now can we.....

    October 13, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |