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Acura Apologizes for “Not Too Dark” Casting Call

Issue casts pall over maker’s first Super Bowl ad.

by on Apr.19, 2012

Jerry Seinfeld with actor playing an Acura dealer in the maker's recent Super Bowl commercial.

Acura has issued an apology for the casting process used to search for an African-American actor who was “not too dark” for a Super Bowl commercial featuring comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

The humorous spot, in which Seinfeld seeks to be the first to buy a new Acura NSX, had won praise following its February airing. It was the first Acura spot ever to run in the Super Bowl.  But a controversy opened up this week when celebrity website TMZ revealed the casting sheet for the commercial sought someone “not too dark” to play an Acura salesman.

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“We apologize to anyone offended by the language on the casting sheet used in the selection of actors for one of our commercials,” Acura has said in a statement.

“We sought to cast an African-American in a prominent role in the commercial, and we made our selection based on the fact that he was the most talented actor,” the maker added.  “The casting sheet was only now brought to our attention. We are taking appropriate measures to ensure that such language is not used again in association with any work performed on behalf of our brand.”

A source involved in the commercial’s production told TMZ that the “not too dark” selection criteria was the result of technical concerns and not an issue specifically related to the race or appearance of the actor playing the Acura salesman. With an actor with extremely dark skin, the source said, “lighting and special effects would get tricky.”

The brouhaha comes across much like a moment from the Seinfeld TV show, of a decade past, in which seemingly innocuous comments can trigger wholesale chaos.

In this case, it has cast a definite pall over Acura’s otherwise well-received Super Bowl commercial.

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