Supreme Court may need to deal with this oneBy Jeffrey Jolson HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Today) 8/5/08 — There has been a major backfire with presidential candidate John McCain’s TV ads comparing Barack Obama’s rock-star status and intelligence to celebrities Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Not only has the highly- influential Hilton family struck back (who once donated to McCain’s campaign) about the affront to their offspring, fans across the nation are riled by the commercials offending the women, no matter how controversial they may be. Moreover, Paris can possibly sue McCain in states that have “right of publicity laws.” Simply stated, you cannot use a person’s image to sell anything without their approval and likely a large check. Try using Michael Jordan’s face in your TV ad without permission and see how many lawyers call by 9 a.m.. The question will be is selling votes a sale? Political speech, like HT has First Amendment rights to run a public figure, yet TV ads may be an exception – yet this may be a question for the Supreme Court. Obama may wish to run a Bruce Springsteen song or face on his ads, but he can’t without permission.
A spokesman for Paris Hilton complained that “Miss Hilton was not asked, nor did she give permission for the use of her likeness in the ad.”Paris may be blond, but like Madonna, she is anything but dumb. She has multiple corporations, a fashion line, makes her TV appearances and board meetings on time and has kept out of trouble. She is still young and rich, so subject to any rock star-like messes – but she can be cool as any CEO. It is similar with Britney, who is worth as much many women in business. Yet McCain played them as bimbos and compared them to Obama as one. McCain on Friday denied that his campaign had taken a negative turn, saying, “We think it’s got a lot of humor in it, we’re having fun and enjoying it.” Paris Hilton’s mother doesn’t share McCain’s frivolity. On Sunday, Hilton’s mother, Kathy Hilton, a McCain donor, registered her disapproval, calling the ad “a complete waste of the money John McCain’s contributors have donated to his campaign.” Kathy Hilton and her husband donated a total of $4,600 to McCain’s campaign earlier this year. Photo: Kathy Hilton and McCain before the fallout