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Mitt Romney: The Max Headroom candidate

The Screen Actors Guild should have created a "reality television" category this year so the Republican presidential debates could have taken home a prize at Sunday's SAG Awards, jokes David Horsey on Top of the Ticket.

Certainly there are enough people out there who'd say Mitt Romney's as authentic as anything you'd see on reality TV. But forget "reality" programming for a moment. Romney's persona has earned him more comparisons to the '80s character Max Headroom than to Kim Kardashian of "my big fat fake wedding" fame. Both are unreal, but in different ways.

"If you were a casting director and you submitted Mitt Romney, you would be laughed out of the office," says New York magazine film Critic David Edelstein in a recent episode of "Studio 360" that aimed to place Romney within different pop cultural frames. "They would all say he's 'too on the nose.' There's still part of us that looks at Mitt Romney and says 'he's not real.' " Like Ward Cleaver and, yes, Max Headroom.

Comparing Romney to Headroom, the show's host, Kurt Andersen, says: "There is this, bless him, relentless upbeatness. He never gets angry. He never scowls. He never goes for the red meat the way so many other candidates do." Watch the above video and see for yourself.

But wait: Isn't that exactly who Hollywood traditionally casts as president? Take "The Adjustment Bureau" as a recent example. Here's Edelstein again toward the end of the "Studio 360" segment: "All of the classic Hollywood political movies are all about someone being relentlessly programmed by handlers, moving away from his or her core values."

So it stands to reason that Romney would get cast in the lead role. But, says Edelstein, only if Romney has it in him to reverse course, throw out his prepared text and speak from the heart. We know he can do the former, but it's hard to imagine a rebellious Romney.

Then again, Romney's two hours aren't up yet.

Listen to the whole segment here:


Romney's pandering comments on Israel 

Sarah Palin's attack on the GOP establishment

Would the Romney ad be OK if it featured Ron Burgundy?

--Alexandra Le Tellier


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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