Read Variety’s Q&A with Johnston
Levi Johnston is setting his sights on the dysfunctional family business.
Johnston will run for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska — yes, the same job that propelled Sarah Palin to governor of that state (and later, the vice presidential nomination) — in a new reality project being pitched by Stone and Co.
“Loving Levi: The Road to the Mayor’s Office” will center on Johnston’s newfound fame as the baby daddy to Palin’s grandson, Tripp.
Johnston will trade on that notoriety to make his run for Wasilla City Hall — when he’s not pursuing a career in Hollywood, of course.
Stone and Co. are already shooting the show’s pilot and have started pitching the show to networks.
Johnston admitted that he wasn’t thrilled at first about the mayoral campaign concept, which was pitched to him by Stone’s Scott Stone and David Weintraub.
“But the more I think about it and look into it, I think there’s a possibility we can make it happen,” Johnston said of his political prospects. “It’s something that I want to do.”
Johnston already has a campaign manager, Tank Jones, to help him with the task. Wasilla’s mayoral chair isn’t actually up for election until 2012, but in the meantime, Jones said Johnston may look to run for city council.
Johnston’s candidacy isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds: Wasilla’s current mayor, lawyer Verne E. Rupright, won the seat in 2008 with 466 votes — less than 100 from his nearest competitor, who received 373.
If he wins, he promises to fulfill his duty as the town’s mayor.
And should his candidacy prove successful in Wasilla, Jones said he’s got Johnston’s sights set next on the Alaska governor’s race — and it’s not entirely clear whether he’s kidding or not. (And if it again sounds too far-fetched, remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura were elected governor in much more populous states.)
Johnston, who describes himself as “half red-neck, half Hollywood,” said he hoped the show would correct what he believes are misconceptions about him in the media.
“It’s hard to figure me out,” he said. “You’ve got to follow me around. I’m very different. I lead a crazy life. But it will basically be both worlds, my life in Hollywood and back home, the real country boy that I am.”
Johnston said he knows his reputation “is love and hate right now… but we’re trying to flip that around.” This show, he added, will “send a message to America about who I really am and what I want to do with my life.”
Johnston confirmed that he and on-again, off-again fiancee Bristol (yes, they’re off again) took pitches for their own reality show — “but we weren’t thrilled with any of the ideas. We got a lot of offers. But the fact is we didn’t want to do it.”
Stone and Co. promise a “no-holds-barred” look at Johnston’s attempts at raising son Tripp with Bristol Palin, as well as “looking for love and taking care of business for his fellow Wasillians.
“He will give us a real inside look into who he is as a father, a skilled hunter, an avid dirt biker and his journey down the road of small-town politics … right after he gets his high school diploma,” the company said in its description of the show.
Johnston’s not exactly a reality TV novice. He appeared on an episode of Bravo’s “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” and has made several other TV appearances in the years since Palin’s candidacy (and Bristol’s pregnancy) thrust him into the spotlight. Johnston, who also appeared in a commercial for pistachios, has more recently pursued acting and modeling gigs in Hollywood, and is currently shooting a musicvid with R&B singer Brittani Senser.
Stone will exec produce along with Canaan Rubin, who serves as an adviser for Johnston. Weintraub, who shepherded the project for Stone and Co., is a producer.Project reps the latest for Stone since Weintraub came on board; the producer also announced plans to reunite several “Baywatch” actresses to star in the docusoap “Back to the Bay.”
Read Variety’s Q&A with Johnston