Actor Morgan Freeman denied Monday that it is his voice in an ad for GOP Congressional candidate B.J. Lawson attacking Democratic incumbent David Price.
"These people are lying," said Freeman, according to a statement released by his public relations firm in Los Angeles. "I have never recorded any campaign ads for B.J. Lawson and I do not support his candidacy. And, no one who represents me ever has ever authorized the use of my name, voice or any other likeness in support of Mr. Lawson or his candidacy."
Lawson could not immediately be reached for comment.
The voice in the ad sounds like Freeman and the Lawson campaign issued a statement Monday saying that it was indeed the Academy Award-winning actor, whose instantly recognizable voice has such gravitas he has twice been cast in movies playing the role of God.
“Barbara Streisand wouldn't do it this, but Morgan Freeman doesn't have a problem cutting ads against Washington insiders or he wouldn't do it," said Martin Avila, Lawson's campaign manager. "People shouldn't be so shocked that someone like Mr. Freeman would think outside of the left-right red vs. blue dynamic. This election IS about regular people asking basic questions."
Stan Rosenfield, Freeman's spokesman, said it is not unusual for voice actors to try to impersonate Freeman's voice and cadence in political ads. Freeman, who was on location for a film shoot in Florida, was adamant that he had never recorded an ad for Lawson, Rosenfield said.
Rosenfield said the actor will now consider filing a lawsuit against the Lawson campaign for using Freeman's name without his permission.
"I'd like to see them produce one shred of evidence that it is him," Rosenfield said.
Avila said that Lawson's campaign has a copy of its contract with M.E.I. Political, the California firm that produced the ad, saying the voice is indeed that of Morgan Freeman. Following Freeman's statement, however, Avila conceded the possibility that his campaign had been hoodwinked.
"We paid for Morgan Freeman," Avila said. "We feel tremendously taken advantage of. This is not what we want to be talking about the day before voters go to the polls."
Benjamin Mathis, the president of M.E.I. Political, could not immediately be reached for comment. A woman who answered the phone at his office said he was very busy.
Mathis, who specializes in making ads for GOP candidates, has previously worked on such television series as Benson, Blossom and The Golden Girls, according to the firm's web site.
Price's campaign wasted no time trying to score political points off from the dust up, dubbing the issue "The Shawshank Deception" in a media release.
Reached at his home in Chapel Hill, Price said he never thought for a minute that the voice in the ad was really that of the famous Hollywood actor who has starred in at least 87 films, including Glory, Driving Miss Daisy and Million Dollar Baby.
"It's an interesting voice, but it never occurred to us it was Morgan Freeman," Price said. "They need to make this right, and that starts with a sincere apology to Mr. Freeman and pulling at ad down. That ad should not run another minute."
UPDATE: The Lawson campaign has taken the ad down from YouTube. Dome did save a copy of the audio featuring the Morgan Freeman sound-alike, however.
|B.J. Lawson ad|