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Pt 2:Creative Coalition - For good or bad, celebrity is shaping up to be a major force in this fall's American election. From the get-go, celebrities have flocked to Barack Obama, earning him endorsements from the all-powerful Oprah Winfrey as well as a gaggle of mere mortal Hollywood stars.
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It's Friday, August 22nd.
The Dallas Zoo is embroiled in a bitter debate over what to do with an aging, ten-thousand pound elephant named Jenny who suffers from depression, panic attacks and bouts of debilitating rage.
Currently, The Democratic Party has offered to take her in ... and plans to rename her "metaphor."
This is The Current.
Age and Doping Scandal
Ever since the Beijing Olympics began, there have been rumours about the true age of one of China's star female gymnasts. And after He Kexin took gold medals in both individual and team events, the speculation went into overdrive. Suggestions that Chinese officials had hidden her true age because she was too young to compete according to Olympic regulations were whispered throughout Beijing.
Those whispers never amounted to anything because there was never any proof to back them up at least until now. Mike Walker is a computer security expert with the Intrepidus Group who blogs under the name "Stryde Hax." He says he's tracked down documents that prove that He Kexin was born in 1994, not 1992 as her passport claims. If the documents are correct, that makes her 14, not 16 and too young to compete according to Olympic rules. Mike Walker joined us from Washington.
He Kexin denies that any of her documents have been forged. And, as I mentioned, the International Olympic Committee has launched an investigation into the matter. But for Christopher Shaw, the IOC's efforts may be too little, too late. He's the author of Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games. He is also a founding member of the No Games 2010 Coalition and he's in Los Angeles. Good morning!
Listen to Part One:
For good or bad, celebrity is shaping up to be a major force in this fall's American election. From the get-go, celebrities have flocked to Barack Obama, earning him endorsements from the all-powerful Oprah Winfrey as well as a gaggle of mere mortal Hollywood stars. But it hasn't all been champagne kisses and caviar dreams. John McCain's campaign has been trying to use Obama's celebrity supporters against him with a television ad suggesting that Obama is himself a celebrity lightweight on par with Paris Hilton or Britney Spears. And yet, as we head into both party's conventions.
Democrats will be rocking out with Kanye West while Republicans will be looking for good vibrations from what's left of the Beach Boys.
The Republicans are rumoured to have sought out high-powered talent agency, William Morris to help deal with what might be perceived as a slightly dated and less hip lineup. And both parties are getting help from the Creative Coalition, a non-profit political advocacy group that's bringing delegations of Hollywood types to both the Democratic and Republican conventions. Robin Bronk is the Director of the Creative Coalition. She joined The Current from New York City.
Stocking up on Star Power
But even as the Democratic and Republican parties try to stock their conventions with star power, their relationships with celebrity are, well, complicated. As I mentioned, it was only a few weeks ago that John McCain's campaign mocked Barack Obama's alleged celebrity status.
And then Paris Hilton -- a bonafide celebrity if ever there was one -- trumped everybody with an ad of her own on the popular web site, Funny or Die.
For some perspective on the celebrity circus that's unfolding, Megan Carpentier joined us in conversation. She writes for the web sites Jezebel.com and Glamocracy. And Darrell West is the co-author of Celebrity Politics and the Director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. They're both in Washington. Good morning to you both!
Listen to Part Two: