Political Ad With ‘Hollywood’ Twist Creates Controversy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Wisconsin political ad with a Hollywood voice over? Or is it?

The first time you listen to it, you might think it sounds like actor Morgan Freeman. But his publicist said that it is not his voice.

The conservative group “Citizens For a Strong America” is behind the ad that attacks Democrat Shelly Moore in the Wisconsin recall race against Republican State Senator Sheila Harsdorf.

We went out on Nicollet Mall to see how people reacted to the ad.

“It sounds like Morgan Freeman,” said Angela Lucking.

Attorney David Olsen with Henson & Efron Professional Association said that’s a problem.

“There are cases out there that refer to it as the fruits of his labor, celebrities work long and hard to build up a persona that’s how they become recognizable to the public,” said Olsen.

Olsen represented Jesse Ventura against the WWE. Ventura claimed his likeness was being used in videos without his consent or without compensation.

The Supreme Court sided for Ventura for a million dollars. He said Freeman could have a similar case. Freeman’s publicist says it’s not his voice.

“If he did not give consent to use his voice, and he was not compensated, he has a case,” said Olsen.

WCCO-TV tried contacting “Citizens For a Strong America” by phone and email, and neither message was returned.

  • See BS

    First it’s Michelle Bachmann using “American Girl”, then Tim Pawlenty using hockey footage for a political ad. Now you can’t have the same voice as a celeb or you get threatened by lawyers.

    Fascist big media corporations think they own everything.

    • See BS

      Disney should completely remove the United States Marine Corp from their fake AVATAR movie too.

    • Kate

      Hmmm, Morgan Freeman thinks he owns the rights to his own voice.
      Like Tom Petty thinks he owns the rights to a song he…. owns the rights to.

      Or do you think it is ok to trade on what someone else has built up? And can you believe I’m a liberal? But then the fascist, right wing companies aren’t the ones complaining about infringment in this case. And the copyright laws protect the ‘small’ person also.

      • See BS

        It’s not Morgan Freemans voice, Morgan Freeman is not the boss of anyone elses who speaks like him.

        • Paul Solinger

          If they are misleading the voters by implying Morgan Freeman is endorsing their candidate, then he should sue.

          • See BS

            Ir’a misleading the voters by implying our political process is owned by big media corporations. And you have to have Morgan Freeman and U2 in your back pocket to run for office.

      • KP

        It might sounds like his voice, but it’s NOT. It’s some other schmuck that sounds lust like him. You can’t copyright your voice!

  • Brerwster

    Very Interesting! But Shtupid!

  • Red Neck Purist

    Hilarious! Liberalism is like the Shawshank prison. Only a lucky few escape. Congrats Morgan. We knew you could do it!

  • Poor ratings

    Ways to go CBS avoid all the fact in the ad like “is it accurate “. There is patent on your thought process called communism

  • Undercover

    So does the kid singing on America’s Got Talent that has a Justin Bieber haircut have to pay royalties?
    And as a side note, it isn’t Morgan Freeman, its someone with a voice similar to Morgan Freeman. Maybe Morgan Freeman should be paying this guy royalties.

    • egeneh

      I attempted to post a comment last night identifying the actual narrator of the commercial under discussion, but my post was censored. The individual is the reader of a number of audio books; he is not “imitating” Morgan Freeman, he simply has a virtually identical voice. This time I will not name the narrator of the commercial or provide the author/title/publisher of any books he has recorded. I presume that is the reason my comment was disallowed. I did not realize that only opinions, but no facts, were permitted here.

  • MediaMan

    ….Truly the stupidest, laziest political story i have ever seen…….

    …..I assume they found the facts correct, and this is all the dirt they had?

    • Matt

      This isn’t fox news they don’t make up dirt

  • Iconoclast

    I saw the ad as well. The only reason I knew it was not him was the fact that I knew Morgan Freeman would never be involved in such a low rent ad full of misleading statements put out by a group backing Republicans.

    • Matt

      when I heard the ad I didn’t think it was him it never crossed my mind that it was him.

  • Jenn-S

    This is news? Someone sounds like someone else? Sounds like a lawyer trying to drum up business, to me. Did you call him, WCCO, or did he call you?

  • side notes

    It’s pretense. Pretending you are someone else can get you into trouble, as well as the person you pretend to be. People will assume it’s Morgan Freeman and that he supports something he doesn’t. If he did support it, he would have done the ad himself. His publicist found it important enough to go on the record to say it wasn’t Morgan Freeman speaking in that political ad. Truth in Advertising is an attempt to keep advertising in the realm of honesty.

    • Reality Check Gone Missing

      People who assume…makes an a$$….u…me.

      “Truth in Advertising is an attempt to keep advertising in the realm of honesty.”
      Really? When do ANY political ads have complete truth in them?

      For example…the democrat ad showing supposedly middle class people putting money into a fish like bowl and supposedly rich people taking money out of that same bowl and putting it in their pockets…is like tax breaks to the rich? So the rich don’t pay any taxes…they just take money from the bowl middle class pay into? Where is the “Truth in Advertising” in that ad? The words said something but the picture told a totally different story!

  • richard

    No surprise here…Righties mis-represent/lie about almost everything.

    • Tom

      @ Richard

      Very True!

      • To Tom-Dikard-and-Harrebals

        Very, Very, Very True!!!

        And “Liberals” misrepresent that they can think, work, solve math problems, budgets, taxes, etc., etc., etc,…

        Just like this story, your comments have no worth.

  • just sayin

    I’d still vote republican.

    • Matt

      republican or tea bag republican

      • Redneck Purist

        There is no such thing as a Tea “Bag” Republican. Tea-bagging is a popular sexual practice among liberal gays. Tea Party Republicans are just normal people who are tired of big government. Pretty big difference. Glad I could help.

  • gdog

    So should Tina Fey be in trouble for pretending to be Sarah Palin? Seems like the same thing to me? Most people think what Tina Fey says when she make believes she’s Palin is really what Palin said. It will be interesting to see how this case goes and how it affects similar situations.

    • The Architect

      Umm, you think Saturday Night Live is real impersonations?

    • Tom


      Did you miss the Saturday Night Live episode where Palin and Fey did a skit together. And as of right now Fey has not threatened with lawsuits.

  • http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/07/28/political-ad-with-%e2%80%98hollywood%e2%80%99-twist-creates-controversy/ Political Ad With ‘Hollywood’ Twist Creates Controversy « CBS Minnesota

    […] [watch/read the report] Share this No comments // […]

  • A Voter

    If it’s wrong, and I believe it is, why is it still on the air?

    • The Architect

      It comes down to a question of intent.

      Did they intentionally choose a voice over guy with a voice virtually identical to Morgan Freeman’s in an attempt to make the viewer believe he was listening to a political message endorsed by Mr. Freeman?

      Or did they hire a voice over guy who had a similar voice as Mr. Freeman’s because Mr. Freeman has a great voice for doing voice overs and coincidentally then so does the guy sounding like him?

      Again, did they intend to deceive the viewer or did they not. That will be the determining factor for deciding if a lawsuit is viable or not.

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