On long, holiday weekends — especially long, holiday weekends getting blasted by rain storms — the news tends to slow down a bit. What better way to spend a few idle minutes than to run prominent Maine politicians through a facial recognition software program and find out which actors look most like them.
For this task, we used the website Picadilo, in large part because the website didn’t demand we sign up for any extra services or give it control of our Facebook pages or anything.
With that in mind, Picadilo wasn’t quite as sophisticated as some others out there — it didn’t take into consideration age, gender, hair style or hair color, like it seems some of these other facial comparison programs do. The program just scans the subject’s eyes, nose and mouth and makes some calculations based on those characteristics — where they are in relation to each other, whether they’re larger or smaller, etc.
To make this a little more accurate in terms of who might play these politicians in a movie about Maine politics, we threw out Picadilo’s responses that didn’t match the gender of the politician we submitted. We then grabbed the top two remaining celebrities, and awarded the coveted movie role to whichever one is actually an actor (some of Picadilo’s responses were, ironically, other politicians, among other non-actors).
Just to get a sense of how accurate this program is, we ran Anthony Ronzio, news and audience director for the Bangor Daily News, through the system. We figured, “OK, if this comes back with a match of Pitbull, we’ll be satisfied.”
I mean, just look. Throw some dark glasses on Tony and Voila!
However, Picadilo came back with Richard Dreyfuss and Andre Agassi as its top male matches. This makes us skeptical, although we could be talked into Agassi.
So maybe the program isn’t perfect. Anyway, this is just for fun, so if you’re a candidate for major office in Maine, please have a light-hearted laugh about this.
Let’s get this ball rolling and see what it tells us. For this exercise, we’ll list the top two matches of the same gender along with the percentage of a match Picadilo says the celebrity is, then award the role to whichever one is an actor. Got it?
Starting with Maine’s First District congressional race between incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree and challenger, young Gorham Republican Isaac Misiuk. Using alphabetical order of the last names, Isaac goes first.
Maine Politician: Isaac Misiuk
- 67% Tim Allen
- 64% George W. Bush
No offense to the “Tool Man,” who rose to fame on the family-friendly sitcom “Home Improvement,” but I’m guessing Isaac would prefer his career path follow that of the other match.
Maine Politician: Chellie Pingree
- 65% Cate Blanchett
- 62% Morgan Fairchild
Chellie gets lined up with the two-time Academy Award-winning Australian actress who starred in “The Aviator” and “The Hobbit.”
Let’s move up to Maine’s second congressional district, where Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain of Orono faces off against Republican former state treasurer Bruce Poliquin to replace departing six-term congressman Mike Michaud, who’s now running for governor (more on him later).
Maine Politician: Emily Cain
- 72% Kristin Chenoweth
- 71% Mariah Carey
Both of Emily’s matches have great singing ranges, so maybe the part of the movie about the second district can be a musical. Chenoweth won a Tony Award for her Broadway portrayal of Sally Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” as well as an Emmy Award for her role in the ABC dramedy “Pushing Daisies.”
Maine Politician: Bruce Poliquin
- 81% James Cameron
- 78% (tie) Richard Gere and Nick Nolte
Big budget director and producer James Cameron, whose grandiose projects have included “Titanic” and “The Terminator,” might be the one we want behind the scenes on this Maine political movie, but in front of the camera, we’re breaking the tie and giving the role of Bruce to “Pretty Woman” heartthrob Richard Gere.
Let’s scoot over to the first of our statewide races, where Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows is running to knock off three-term incumbent Republican Susan Collins.
Maine Politician: Shenna Bellows
- 67% Sheryl Crow
- 65% Heather Locklear
Picadilo finds that Shenna matches up most closely with Heather Locklear, who rose to fame on the soap operas “Dynasty” and “Melrose Place.”
Maine Politician: Susan Collins
- 61% Ellen DeGeneres
- 60% Melanie Griffith
Ellen DeGeneres, who starred in her own sitcom for a little while in the 1990s before mostly turning her attention to a daytime talk show, narrowly beats out Golden Globe-winner Melanie Griffith for the part of Maine’s senior senator.
OK, so here’s the big one — at least in terms of the number of candidates. It’s the race for the Blaine House, which pits incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage against Democrat Michaud and independent 2010 runner-up Eliot Cutler. Going with alphabetic order, as we’ve been doing all along, let’s start with Eliot.
Maine Politician: Eliot Cutler
- 82% Guy Ritchie
- 80% Danny Glover
Screenwriter and producer Guy Ritchie could give Cameron a run for his money as a behind-the-scenes guy for this hypothetical movie, but the actor listed above is Danny Glover, perhaps best known for playing Detective Sgt. Roger Murtaugh in the “Lethal Weapon” action movie series.
Maine Politician: Paul LePage
- 82% Ben Kingsley
- 67% Tony Blair
Like Isaac Misiuk above, Paul would probably prefer his career follow the path of prominent English politician Tony Blair, but Kingsley’s the actor of the two matches — and came out with a strong 82 percent similarity. The decorated Kingsley won an Academy Award for his performance in the 1982 film “Gandhi,” and more recently starred in blockbusters like “Iron Man 3″ and “Shutter Island.”
Maine Politician: Mike Michaud
- 90% Anthony Hopkins
- 90% John Lithgow
This was the toughest call of them all, as Picadilo found that not only did two actors tie as matches for Mike, but that both of them are really, really close matches. We gave the role to Anthony Hopkins, the somewhat more acclaimed of the two. Hopkins has won an Academy Award, two Emmys, three British Academy Film Awards and the prestigious Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award.
(Photos above from the BDN archives and Wikipedia Commons.)