Barack Obama has just signed a deal with CBS and NBC to run a half-hour ad on Wednesday, Oct. 29, less than a week before the election, and a night before the start of November sweeps. Obama will make his pitch to the entire country, rather than just to battleground states, with a chunk of prime time TV. The last time a presidential candidate bought a half-hour: Ross Perot in 1992.
"Obama's theme is not just change but unity, so he's appealing to the whole nation rather than a handful of tossup states," one political analyst told the Hollywood Reporter yesterday. "He wants to win the popular vote by a good margin, which will enable him to govern."
The Obama campaign has a few dollars to spend, which might not be the case if the senator had not opted out of the campaign financing system. The price of prime time has to be huge, but according to the New York Times, the networks and the campaign will not disclose the cost. If McCain decides to take the same path, by the way, the networks are obliged to offer him a similar time slot and the same price.
An Obamercial? Yes, and followed by laughs. CBS will move "The New Adventures of Old Christine" to 8:30 that night, and NBC will pull "Knight Rider" and fill in the 8:30 slot with a sitcom.
I'll definitely watch it, but I do hope the influence of reality TV -- so huge since the days of Ross Perot -- is not visible in the production. That would just be grotesque. Will you watch?