Sean Astin Kickstarts His Dreams

by 2:33 PM PDT, October 14, 2013
Photo: Getty Images

In the last few years we've seen celebrities of every ilk turn to crowd-funding in order to get their passion projects made. But Sean Astin's Kickstarter doesn't come with a multi-million dollar price tag -- all he needs is $30,000 to make his dream a reality, and here's why you'll want to help!

Astin is trying to take his Vox Populi online political radio show to the next level -- and the timing couldn't be better as the recent government shutdown has everyone theorizing about what can be done, and why our elected officials aren't the proper representatives we'd hoped for. Vox Populi encourages this very discourse as each installment matches guests of opposing viewpoints and has them engage in a heated, but productive, discussion as he guides them from topic to topic.

He's currently completed thirty-five 2 hour shows and, once funded, The Kickstarter will help continue these important conversations covering politics, government and world events, divergent viewpoints and a high standard of civil discourse. ETonline caught up with Astin to find out why he's so passionate about politics and why Kickstarter has completely changed everything.

ETonline: How did you come to host a political talk show?
Sean Astin: When I was a kid my mother was president of The Screen Actors Guild, and she had a really popular morning talk show. So that infused me, as a kid, with the idea that politics are important -- my family is just really good at talking about it publicly. I have met with managers and agents over my 30 year career and every time I'd say, "I want to do a political show," everyone would get a sour look in their face and say no one wants to hear about that. Now, with the advent of the internet and a Twitter following, I thought, "I bet if I did a radio show and I Tweeted out to these 40,000 people at least a few would tune in." And low and behold, they did. And now we have a standard audience of 10 to 12,000. That is a coffee house conversation on steroids. I love it moderating discussions with people who absolutely can't agree on anything; in those moments I feel I'm good at helping whoever is talking at least see some part of the other guy's point of view -- even for a moment. That moment of civility is huge.

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ETonline: What excites you about utilizing Kickstarter?
Astin: Listen, this is a passion project for me. I couldn't live off of this. The money I am making goes straight to the show. This is a way to engage and be a part of the conversation and for me, going person to person and asking for $25 seems absurd, but it gives every single person I communicate with the understanding that without them, the show doesn't happen. It has to survive on its own merits or it won’t get done. If I was doing a parody of Lord of the Rings, a satire with Sam and Golum, I could get millions from loyal Lord of the Ring fans in a heartbeat. But I'm asking to do something totally different and for people to look at me a little deeper. You know I was on the president's council, I have a degree in history and literature; there's all these aspects of my personality that no one knows anything about. But if they look a little bit deeper they would understand why I want to be a political radio show host. What I'm asking for is for the promise of social media to manifest itself. I hope people appreciate what I'm trying to do.

ETonline: One of the items people can get for donating is a chance to co-host an hour -- that seems like an amazing opportunity.
Astin: Well that's what the whole show is really about because people get to control the discussion. I like going into the public and having discussions with people -- I mean, I'll talk to them before and make sure they're not totally berzerk, and then I can just turn the microphone off, but my hope is that people tune in and think "Wow, these people are actually really interesting, calm, intelligent people and to give them a place to express their beliefs is an exciting prospect.

ETonline: Is the goal with Vox Populi to take it to a network or bigger platform?
Astin: Vox Populi is a bad attempt at global domination [laughs]. But before we do that we need to raise $30,000 so I can hire a producer. I would love nothing more than to sit down to interview the head of Iran and ask serious probing questions of our leaders. At this moment given what we have, I'm thrilled to get the head of the congressional budget on the line. I could see a full 2 hours being spent on the debt ceiling. Let me get the heads of departments on the phone and try to get what the Americans want. I'm a normal guy, when I ask questions my basic persona is to have things explained to me very simply so I can understand it. What is the debt ceiling? Does that mean we borrowed it? This word is occurring over and over again, most people will say they have no idea what it means. And when someone tries to explain it, they don't understand it. So let me do a show that explains these things in a simple way and it can be as big or small as the audience wants it to be.

To contribute to Sean's Kickstarter, click here!