The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

« Previous Post | The Big Picture Home | Next Post »

Morgan Freeman is mad about GOP's Morgan Freeman impersonator ad

November 2, 2010 | 12:51 pm

Morgan_freeman I'm always in a ridiculously sunny mood on election day, regardless of whether things look bright or (in today's case) unbelievably gloomy for most of my favorite candidates. I suspect that a big part of that optimism comes from the wonderful small town atmosphere at my local polling place. I live in the flats of Brentwood, which rarely feels like a cozy small town, but on election day, my polling spot--at the local Christian Science Reading Room--is manned by a host of homespun retirees who look like they could all have been living in Ames, Iowa. Everyone has a smile, a friendly greeting and smells like they had buckwheat pancakes for breakfast.

If only they knew what happened this past week in North Carolina, they wouldn't look so gosh-darned cheerful. It's been a season of attack ads everywhere you look, so no one is shocked by anything nasty that anyone has had to say about anyone else. But B.J. Lawson, the GOP challenger running against Democratic incumbent David Price in the district surrounding Chapel Hill, has taken God's name in vain--in other words, he's used a Morgan Freeman impersonator who pretended to be the famous Oscar winning actor, narrating a Lawson ad poor-mouthing his opponent.

Freeman, a longtime supporter of Democratic candidates who is repped by Stan Rosenfield (yes, the same publicist who said that Charlie Sheen's recent drunken hotel-trashing spree was brought on by an allergic reaction to medication), wasn't happy to discover that a lot of people in North Carolina thought he was lending his voice to a GOP insurgent. According to a post by Politico's Ben Smith, after Lawson and his campaign manager claimed that Freeman had done their ad, the actor angrily responded: "These people are lying. I have never recorded any campaign ads for B.J. Lawson and I do not support his candidacy. And no one who represents me ever has ever authorized the use of my name, voice or any other likeness."

Ouch! Even worse, the GOP candidate's campaign did a lousy job of dissembling when confronted with the impersonator issue. Instead of immediately apologizing, Lawson's campaign manager initially said "we have a contract saying it's Morgan Freeman," explaining that they'd been approached by a campaign supporter, with a supposedly impressive portfolio of work with other showbiz celebrities, who had offered to cut an ad with Freeman. Now that Freeman has gone public, the campaign is finally pulling the ad, admitting that they'd been bamboozled and saying "this is obviously not what we want to be talking about" a day before voting.

What is a just punishment? I say all of Lawson's campaign staff should be forced to watch Freeman and Antonio Banderas in "Thick as Thieves," a heist thriller made a couple of years ago that was such a stinker it went straight to DVD without a theatrical release. I'm guessing the heist in the movie didn't turn out any better than the Lawson campaign ad. 

Photo: Morgan Freeman at the 14th annual Hollywood Awards Gala in Beverly Hills last month.

Credit: David Livingston/Getty Images