Activists take to reality TV to advance their causes

LOS ANGELES: PR professionals from two high-profile activist organizations are taking to reality television to spread their organizations' messages in a mock run for the White House.

LOS ANGELES: PR professionals from two high-profile activist organizations are taking to reality television to spread their organizations' messages in a mock run for the White House.

Bruce Friedrich, director of vegan campaigns at People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and Lisa Witter, head of Fenton Communications, have been chosen as contestants for American Candidate, the upcoming Showtime reality series.

The show follows about a dozen people - picked from more than 1,500 applicants - as they stage and manage a run for the White House, from debates to cross-country tours.

The series will play during the campaign season. The winner will receive $200,000.

Both Witter, whose clients include Moveon.org and Air America Radio, and Friedrich, who has helped craft some of PETA's most controversial efforts, said they plan on using the show to further discuss the social and political causes they have worked on.

"I do appreciate the opportunity to be a face for animal rights, for PETA, and for compassion for all animals," Friedrich said.

For Witter, the issues are a bit broader. "My campaign isn't just about empowering people, but about all of the issues that progressives care about - affordable healthcare for all, improving the economy, fair taxes, strengthening education, protecting our environment," she said.

Both candidates face their first challenge this week as they are asked to stage a campaign kickoff with only $100 to spend. The show will eliminate the candidate who doesn't draw a big enough crowd.

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