March 23, 2011 By Sarah Rich
A new reality star has made his way onto television, but he won’t be surviving on an island or winning hearts on The Bachelor. He’ll be discussing Maine’s government issues.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who took office three months ago, is featured on the new information-based TV show titled Inside the Blaine House, which highlights the governor’s initiatives, policies and transparency within the state government. According to the governor’s office, one of the show’s goals is to provide an understanding of why a policy is being proposed.
“We thought [the show] would be a great opportunity to connect with Mainers and be able to show people what we’re doing as an administration to explain further our policies and the reasons behind them,” said Maine Press Secretary Adrienne Bennett.
Set inside the James G. Blaine house - the Maine executive mansion - the 30-minute show’s first episode aired Tuesday, March 22, and is scheduled to air once every two weeks on local cable and streaming online. Inside the Blaine House is produced by Maine Video on Demand (MaineVOD), a local programming video production company. The company approached the LePage administration nearly two months ago about starting a TV show, which the administration accepted.
Kim Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, hosted the first episode and asked LePage questions about the state government’s challenges. In one question, Lindlof addressed the administration’s efforts to increase government transparency.
“Quite frankly, we haven’t made any strides toward [transparency], and I would love to,” LePage said in his response. “… That is something that I would like to see done.”
Lindlof and Steve Wallace, president and executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, kicked off the show as its hosts. Wallace is a leading candidate as the show’s permanent host, but no decision has been made, said Brian Pomerleau, president of MaineVOD.
Participation by chambers of commerce might not be by accident. LePage has said he will pursue a pro-business agenda in office. The governor took criticism from labor leaders Wednesday after he reportedly ordered that a mural of labor history be removed from a Maine Department of Labor building.
The TV show will address a variety of topics, including economic development. Future episodes will include a segment that engages citizens to ask questions about the state’s government. Pomerleau said the show’s format will be similar to other shows he produces, which includes a platform for back-and-forth communication that’s local but has statewide interest.
“I thought it would be a great idea to provide a platform for the governor and his staff to tell the people of Maine what he’s doing on a regular, ongoing basis and then to create a way for people to ask him questions that he could respond to directly,” Pomerleau said.
He said a website address was set up on the company’s website [http://www.mainevod.com/inside-the-blaine-house/about] so citizens can e-mail questions they’d like addressed on the show.
To fund the program, Maine will not be using any tax dollars; the production is funded through an advertising sponsorship controlled by MaineVOT. Commercial advertising will fill space in between the show’s segments, Pomerleau said.
The first episode ran with public service announcements from the Foundation for a Better Life organization. The foundation has no affiliation with the Office of the Governor, Bennett said.
The show streams on MaineVOD’s website and will next air on Time Warner Cable’s TWC TV (Channel 9) on Sunday, March 27, at 10 p.m.
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