When new NBC show American Odyssey debuted earlier this month, Harrison Schultz’s phone started buzzing.
Schultz, 32, a marijuana activist, is the co-founder of Occupy Weed Street and Occupy the Need Act. Back in 2011, he was an organizer with Occupy Wall Street and gave interviews to Fox News and other outlets on the dangers of capitalization.
Friends and family wanted to know if he was on the show, or if he knew how much the main characters, Harrison Walters, played by Jake Robinson, looked like him. Schutz thinks NBC is capitalizing on his own story for their financial gain.
“After the first episode people started contacting me, saying ‘dude, it’s you! It’s you!,” Schultz said. “Some of the things are true — dead on — but other things have already done damage to my professional career.”
The share a first name and style of facial hair, but for Schultz, one of the other striking resemblances was the character’s opening lines. “Thanks for coming down here to talk to us dirty hippies,” Walters tells a television reporter.
Schultz, who gave numerous interviews during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests, told Fox Business reporter: “Thanks for letting a dirty hippie into your building and on your show.” He also started a segment with Sean Hannity by saying: “Let me start by saying, thank you for letting a dirty hippie come in and explain his views.”
“It’s my face, personality, mannerism. My creative talent is driving the show,” Schultz said. “What we’re doing is far more socially important than what they’re doing. It’s dehumanizing … I look at his face and I feel violated.”
Schultz is currently looking for a lawyer who can take on his case pro-bono or low cost. A Ph.D. student, Schultz said he has more than $600,000 in student debt and is being evicted from his Brooklyn apartment next month.
Schultz is looking for compensation, but more importantly, for NBC to give him equal time to make the demands of a “real activist” known.
“What would make this better is equal time to go up and explain my actual work as an activist,” said Schultz, who works on campaigns that support Dennis Kucinich’s NEED Act, which would abolish the federal reserve, and State Sen. Liz Krueger’s Marijuana Regulation Taxation Act. “I want the mainstream media to think about things that are real.”
He’s asking for the time to make it clear he’s not a “trustafarian” like Walters.
“The people Harrison Walters works with are not as cool as the people I work with,” Schultz said. “It’s not just a problem for me, it does damage to everybody in the country that would benefit (from these programs).”
A source close to the show told Metro “American Odyssey” is fictional.