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August 15, 2003 02:00am
Ex-Child Star, Porn Star to Debate Calif. Recall
Source: Reuters
by: Ben Berkowitz

(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- Diminutive actor Gary Coleman and porn actress Mary Carey were unveiled on Friday as two of the five candidates set to compete in the Game Show Network's "debate" ahead of California's unprecedented gubernatorial recall election.

The network is calling its program, "Who Wants To be Governor of California?"

Game Show Network president Rich Cronin told a news conference that network on-air personality Kennedy would host the debate, to be taped Sept. 24 for an Oct. 1 airing.

Kennedy then introduced Coleman and Carey, who are among the 135 candidates who qualified for the Oct. 7 ballot, as the first two of five participants in the debate.

"The remaining three contestants will be announced over the next two weeks," Cronin said, adding that the network had received strong interest from others on the ballot, though it preferred only wacky and underdog candidates.

"According to the latest polls, Gov. Gray Davis is an underdog, so we will consider him," Cronin said, referring to the state's embattled Democratic governor.

"This debate is for entertainment purposes only, and our lawyers made it clear to me, I should say, this debate is for entertainment purposes only," Cronin said.

The candidates will make position statements during the show and answer a series of multiple-choice questions on facts about California and the other candidates.

Viewers will be able to vote for the winner on the network's Web site, and Cronin said the results would be announced on-air on Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. pt, to coincide with the closing of California's polls.

The winner will get a $21,200 "campaign donation," the most allowed from a corporation under state campaign finance laws.

Pressed on why she was getting involved in what has become a media circus, Carey insisted that her aims were noble in both running in the election and participating in the debate.

"I registered a whole bunch of strippers and porn stars that were never registered voters," she said.

After introducing the two candidates who were "seeking to preside over the once-great state of California," Kennedy ran a mock session between the two of them.

Asked to spell "Schwarzenegger," as in Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican actor-turned-politician who leads the pack of candidates in most polls, Carey asked "Can I have a pen and paper?"

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