The iCandidate: Looking For Heroes - 3rd Installment
To begin with Installment 1, please click here.
The iCandidate is a unique interactive thriller about a political reality show to choose a potential President of the United States in which the reader has a key say in how the plot unfolds.
In The iCandidate, eight finalists from all walks of life face the kind of challenges they might have to deal with in the Oval Office:
• Will they use the nuclear button?
• What will they do about ISIS?
• How will they cope in a crisis?
At the end of each round the reader gets to cast an iVote to help determine who stays and who goes home. It is democracy in its purest form, free from party loyalties, donor obligations and antiquated electoral practices.
In the novel, serialized weekly on NoteStream, the eventual people’s champion goes on to challenge the political establishment in an iCampaign for the presidency climaxing in an explosive finale in Washington on November 8.
But The iCandidate has even greater aspirations to trigger a revolution in the way America selects the most powerful man or woman on the planet.
Change America one iVote at a time by choosing your iCandidate.
Join the NoteStream Book Club iCandidate: Looking For Heroes – Election 2016 and cast your in-app iVote to save your favorite iCandidates!
Watch out for the release of a second unique contemporary novel - DIVAS by Bill Wagner - this Spring.
"Cant wait to see where this is headed!" 5 stars by Savannah
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The NoteStream™ app is for learning about things that interest you: from music to history, to classic literature or cocktails. NoteStreams are truly easy to read on your smartphone—so you can learn more about the world around you and start a fresh conversation.
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Read the NoteStream below, or download the app and read it on the go!
Chapter 2 – Countdown
Sound engineers and lighting technicians were in their places and cameramen peered from every corner of the studio as the judges walked in and took their seats at the very last minute.
Compacts and brushes flew through the deft fingers of make-up artists, and the audience fidgeted in their seats, necks craning for the best view of the stage. This was the time in live TV when even an experienced veteran like Andy Kristoff felt his nerves flutter a little —he clutched his hands together to keep them steady.
Less than six months after first blurting out the political reality show idea on the sixth hole of the Pebble Beach Golf Course, he had the biggest hit of his life on his hands. He hadn’t been serious about the show at first; he just wanted to stop David Mason from ranting about how they’d all sold their principles down the river. Even more incredibly, the others were all involved. Even Mase.
It all came together incredibly smoothly.
TV talent shows were hardly a new concept when he came up with StarStruck; he just tweaked it to make it sexier. Why should presidential elections be so different? It was all smoke and mirrors. It was all show business.
Desmond was the key; his Silicon Valley background meant he could handle the technical side; they had to come up with a foolproof online voting system to make the whole thing possible. He would oversee everything behind the scenes —the show’s conscience, their very own Jiminy Cricket.
Jacqueline was more difficult to convince.
“How on earth are you going to find suitable candidates?” she asked a few days later, when the four friends met again in a tapas bar in Hollywood.
Kristoff shrugged. “We have auditions in cities around the US, just like I did for StarStruck. First, they have to show proof they’ll be at least 35 by the time of the next election and born in the U.S. We don’t want a mess on our hands like this Canadian-born Ted Cruz thing, with the likes of Trump saying the iCandidates couldn’t even be on the ballot. That would be disastrous for us. We’ll do the usual background checks and interviews to help weed out the crazies.
Next, Desmond has devised a bunch of challenges testing IQ, general knowledge and politics —hopefully we get some heated debates going. Then, of course, there’s the physical obstacle course.
“Wait. Why would they need to run around a bunch of bright red cones? Jacqueline said disdainfully, sipping her chardonnay. “It would make a mockery of the whole thing.”
“I don’t agree,” a big smile spread over Desmond’s face. “We don’t want a slob running the country, now do we? It’s the politically correct way to say fat people need not apply.”
Mason almost choked on his beer. “Wow! You’re serious aren’t you? So, Chris Christie would never have made the cut in our show?
“That’s right. Any other questions?”
How To Choose?
Mason had one. He was warming to this idea by the minute. “If you’re going to all this trouble to find a brilliant candidate with killer abs, who picks them out? How can we be sure we’re getting the best candidates?”
Desmond put his arm around Mason’s shoulder. “Great question. We’re going to handpick them ourselves. I know there’s presidential material out there. He’s just waiting to be found.”
“Or she.” Jacqueline said loudly.
Raise Your Glass
“She what?” Desmond looked blankly at her.
“You said HE is waiting to be found. If I’m going to have anything to do with this spectacle, then we must have some women.”
“Of course, Jacqueline. That goes without saying.” There was a slight pause. Desmond looked around the table. “So we’re really doing this?
“Hell yes!” Mason could already see his bank balance improving.
They all raised their glasses. They were on.
Kristoff was the host. Of course he was. America loved him.
And despite his complaining, Mason was along for the ride. He was Communications Director; he’d write all the show news in his blog, The Inside Scoop on The iCandidate. It was everything he wanted.
When the show aired, Jacqueline couldn’t resist the offer of a place on the judging panel, and a $10,000-a-month clothing stipend.
“I always wanted to be a judge.” Jacqueline shook on the deal with a mischievous glance at Kristoff. “I’d kinda thought it would be on the Supreme Court, but this might turn out to be more powerful. But don’t expect me to agree with anything you say.”
Kristoff watched now as Jacqueline took her place at the Judge’s table, cool and imperious, she looked across at him and they shared a smile. At the back of the hall he could see Mason running around in his element, ushering the press into their seats. And Kristoff could rest easy knowing that Desmond, hidden away in the tech room, was taking care of vital last minute checks.
He felt a shiver go down his spine as everything slowed.
The magic was happening. He loved these moments - the preamble, full of anticipation, the organized chaos, last minute jitters, doubts mixed with heady excitement, the flushed faces, the exquisite details that determine if a show will be an almighty flop or a rip-roaring success. And then, just the sound of his own heartbeat…
He thought back to the initial auditions and how he had assumed it would be so easy to attract people. Just an ad or two and the nation would come running with the chance to shine. How wrong he had been.
Chapter 3 - Who Wants To Be A Politician?
A paltry 500 people had been waiting patiently since 5: 00 a.m. at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on South Figueroa Street. Dreams of political greatness were fast becoming soggy around the edges as iCandidate hopefuls stood in a steady drizzle on a Sunday morning in early November.
They knew little from the brief mentions in the media other than it was a political reality show where no singing, dancing or juggling was required.
Some of the crowd had already drifted away when Rich Francombe screeched up in his Ferrari, and parked diagonally between two rows of steel barricades; assembled to herd the thousands of people expected to show up.
The idle TV crew jumped into action, surrounding the legendary former quarterback.
“Rich, over here,” an enthusiastic reporter shouted. “Are you one of the judges?”
One Of The Guys
“Nope. I’m just trying out." He ignored a security guard’s offer to show him into the foyer and instead joined the back of the line, which suddenly came to life.
“I don’t need any special treatment. I’m just one of you guys today.” Tanned and ripped, he signed autographs on audition sheets as they were thrust in front of him. “But I kind of expected a few more folks.”
The multi-millionaire athlete was led away with a group of strangers to begin a citizenship quiz. He wondered if it was worth the hype. He never was any good at tests.
Houston was the next stop two days later.
David Mason, wearing his official iCandidate tag around his neck, counted heads as 615 people dribbled into the George R. Brown Conference Center downtown. After sending most of the temporary staff home for the day, he led what remained of the group into the cavernous hall for the general knowledge ‘Pride of the States’ challenge, when a portly, precisely dressed Hispanic woman tapped him on the arm.
“Excuse me, sir, is the show going to be canceled?” Dulce Ramirez asked.
“Why would you think that?” Mason answered, irritated.
“Because there’s hardly anyone here. I just don’t want to be wasting my time on all these tests and challenges if it isn’t going anywhere.” She introduced her husband and five children to Mason.
“I promise that you’re not wasting your time,” Mason reassured her. “We’re just getting started.” He was trying to convince himself as much as he was Dulce.
Back To LA
After the hall cleared out—much earlier than expected—Mason, still consumed with doubts, drove back to his hotel. They’d found two good finalists despite the poor turnout and the qualifying rounds would make fun TV to watch if only there were more people interested enough to take part. Perhaps they were kidding themselves. Perhaps America wasn’t ready for this. Then, his phone rang.
It was Desmond. “We need to talk. Catch the next flight back to LA.”
Running Out Of Time
When Mason arrived in Kristoff’s office at the Paramount lot, Desmond was pacing up and down, demanding to know how the turnout in L.A. and Houston could have been so lousy.
Jacqueline was sprawled on the couch checking emails on her iPhone.
“These things take time,” Mason argued.
Desmond was pissed. “We don’t have time. The auditions run for two weeks only. I thought you said the advertising would get everyone pumped up.” He rubbed his face impatiently.
Mason looked to Kristoff for support.
“The same budget brought in thousands for StarStruck last summer,” Kristoff reasoned. “But I guess for every million Taylor Swift wannabes out there, there’s only a handful of Bushes or Obamas…”
“So what can we do? If we don’t fix this now the whole idea is going to fall on its face.”
“I knew it was a waste of my time,” Jacqueline drawled without lifting her head from her phone.
Desmond took out a slim leather attaché case from his drawer and started to jot figures in the notebook. “So we had 500 in L.A. and a mere 600 in Houston…”
“Err, 615 actually,” Mason interjected.
Desmond shot him a look, and Mason sank miserably into his chair. “Wait? We rented the Broncos stadium in Denver for the Friday audition? Jesus, doesn’t that hold 50,000 people?”
“76,000,” Kristoff grimaced.
“We’re going to be a laughing stock. Trump was on Kimmel the other night slating us and said we were a joke.
Eight more cities and back to L.A. for the final audition in just 12 days. We can’t do it.” Desmond’s expression was stony. He reached for a Tums. Failure gave him indigestion.
“We need to bring in at least 50,000 people to make this all possible.”
The number hung in the air like a blimp about to burst. “Are we going to have to cancel the show, Andy?” Desmond was beside himself.
“We can’t give up now,” Mason argued. “There must be something we can do. Hey! We got some publicity when Rich Francombe auditioned in L.A.”
Needing More Than A Legend
“Yeah, but that’s sports,” Jacqueline said, “not politics. It doesn’t help people take it seriously. He may have been one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but he’s not exactly Einstein. The show’s a bust.”
It fell silent in the room.
Kristoff wondered if he should just cut his losses.
“We can’t force people to audition, Des. Perhaps your vision, as brilliant as it is, is just too ambitious for the American people.”
Mason could feel it slipping away. “But people hate the way politics is run in this country! I know we’re only talking about a TV show, but look at the two party system— either way we get a crap president.”
Jacqueline walked over to Mason and ruffled his hair. “Yep, but it takes someone with really big balls to think they can change the system darling.” Jacqueline was just glad she hadn’t quit her job.
We’ve Come This Far…
Desmond sat in the leather chair that faced Kristoff’s desk, staring out the window, the Hollywood sign dominating the view, reminding him how big dreams can come and go in a fleeting moment.
“You know what, to hell with this.” Kristoff was on his feet. “We’ve come this far, I say we saturate all of the TV networks with commercials on the hour, every hour for the next ten days. And let’s stick a huge billboard over the goddamn sign out there too, that’ll get people’s attention!”
Des and Mason sat up, daring to get excited again. “We can do that?”
“Well, perhaps we should leave the sign alone, but we have the finances, we can do what we like.
Let’s shovel cash into the marketing campaign. We’ll blitz everywhere today, and by the time this thing gets back to L.A. next Monday, we’ll have billboards coming out of every sidewalk crack in the city. No more tiptoeing around. Let’s force feed the idea of political stardom down their throats.”
Des brightened, Mason grinned and even Jacqueline showed a spark of interest in her raised eyebrow.
“You think that’ll work?” Des looked eagerly around the room.
Kristoff leaned back in his chair, enjoying the change of tempo. “I don’t know, but let’s give it a go anyway?
The first in-app iVote happens Super Tuesday - March 1! Be sure to cast your iVote and help your favorite iCandidates through to the next level!