Tough case of the Mondays for fans of sports-themed comedy news programs, as Comedy Central decided not to renew either of its new series -- canceling both Sports Show with Norm Macdonald and Onion SportsDome.
I cannot say I'm surprised. More people were watching A&E's Storage Wars than they were Macdonald. And for all of the comedians I know who love Norm, none of them reside within Comedy Central's target demographic of man-boys 18-24. Besides, anyone who has been paying attention to the the basic cable network recently has known that when they like a new series, they often renew it before the initial episode order is up, touting the show's ratings in men 18-24 as proof. See: Workaholics. See: What I wrote about Workaholics getting renewed.
Macdonald, who couldn't stop abusing his Twitter feed during the U.S. Open golf tournament this weekend, hasn't commented there yet about his show's cancellation. He did, however, make a few comments to Entertainment Weekly. Among his ideas: “An Internet campaign to save the show, almost like they do with shows about witches and vampires and aliens from outer space…. Maybe I’ll call [the network] and ask them to bring it back. I’ll say, ‘Just bring it back. How much could it hurt television, really?’”
As for Onion SportsDome, which hadn't been on the air in months anyhow, its inaugural season was a joyful enough parody of ESPN's SportsCenter, but all too often had to rely on segments that didn't even cover actual sports to fill the 22-minute weekly hole. The Onion people still can feel good about themselves today, as their trumped-up bid to win an actual Pulitzer gained plenty of mainstream media attention and celebrity starpower. And the organization's other new TV show, The Onion News Network, will return for a second season this fall on IFC.
The Onion's first TV series, Onion SportsDome, debuted last night on Comedy Central. As it aired in the Eastern/Central time zones, immediate reaction was divided between lovers and haters.
My immediate reaction was a lot like Keith Olbermann's, except for the fact that the MSNBC prime-time commentator used to be one of the main anchors for ESPN's SportsCenter when that show became the thing that SportsDome is now lampooning. Roll it like a ReTweet.
Are you snowed in or know someone who is?
I have good news for you, in the form of two new sneak previews of The Onion's two new series, which debut in a couple of weeks on Comedy Central and IFC.
Onion SportsDome debuts Jan. 11, 2011, on Comedy Central, and by the looks of this story on retired NFL player Rodney Harrison -- which includes current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ronde Barber as an analyst on the report! -- The Onion is not going to punt on any story anytime soon. Roll it!
And if you've watched any online report from The Onion News Network over the past couple of years, then you know that ONN has raised the bar on fake news reporting. ONN makes the jump to TV on IFC on Jan. 21, 2011. In this report, see how North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-Il agreed to disband his nuclear program for a role in the next Batman movie. Roll the clip!
If you thought that The Onion's deal with IFC for a TV series based on its Onion News Network videos in 2011 had made kaput any sports-related deal with Comedy Central, then fool on you.
Comedy Central announced this morning it had approved just such a series, with 10 episodes for "The Onion Sports Network" set to debut in the first quarter of next year.
From the press release, Comedy Central's Kent Alterman said: "The Onion has such credibility in the comedy world, we feel fortunate to partner with them. They will skewer the sports world, and the media coverage of sports, with the same sharpness we’ve seen applied to the world of politics and popular culture." As for The Onion's CEO, Steve Hannah? “The Onion Sports Network teaming up with Comedy Central?” Hannah said. “If I were ESPN, I’d consider a whole new line of work.”
Here is the most recent video entry from the Onion Sports Network, in which they report that the Boston Red Sox plan to return Fenway Park to its original 1912 specifications. For the purists! Hey now. Roll it.
In case you missed it, for April Fool's Day, Martha Stewart's daytime chat show included plenty of pranks, and to make sure some of the humor was, well, actually humorous, she invited The Onion's Joe Garden and Carol Kolb to set up a fake anchor desk in her studio.
Of course, Martha has an actual onion in front of her. What else is she supposed to do? If you want to watch Martha Stewart peel an onion with The Onion's Joe Garden and Carol Kolb, roll it from here!
To everyone who thought the latest Kids in the Hall miniseries would make its American debut on HBO...surprise!
IFC announced today (as relayed by friend of the blog, Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times) that it had picked up the U.S. TV rights to Death Comes to Town, the KITH 8-episode miniseries, which will air this August. Previously: See the trailer.
But that's not all! IFC also will be taking everyone's favorite fake Internet news parody, Onion News Network, and turning it into an actual fake half-hour TV news program.
This is in addition to the previously known news that IFC had acquired the U.S. rights to David Cross' upcoming series, “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.” I had showed you the pilot. But don't feel like it's a spoiler, because I've learned that it's being reshot due to a cast change (Cross is still starring, so chill). It'll air here in October.
Here's the most recent Onion News Network segment to hit the Internets, focusing on the "new" "book," "Wake Up! He's a Shapeshifter!" Roll it.
And here's another for good March Madness measure, since Kentucky hasn't busted your brackets. Yet.
The Onion is everyone's favorite fake newspaper, and also now a favorite fake TV news network (not to be confused with Comedy Central's The Daily Show, which makes fun of the real news). Just watch The Onion News Network's report this week on Internet archaeologists uncovering a long-lost site called "Friendster." But that doesn't mean that it's not journalism. Of course, you probably knew that -- and the AV Club department does act as an actual entertainment news organization -- but the new documentary outfit Breaking The New News wanted to know more, and they went right to the source in Onion Web Editor Baratunde Thurston. Here he is to explain what's what. Roll the clip!
The Webby Awards have announced their 2009 nominees in as many categories as they can get people to pay $295 to get considered for honors, so for what that's worth, here are the comedy-related nods:
In Television: The Flight of the Conchords Lip Dub contest
In the Online Film & Video categories (links to videos included): Stickman Exodus (Atom.com) and 23/6's Get Your War On compete in animation; Rob Corddry (Childrens' Hospital) goes up against Sara Benincasa (Sarah Palin vlogs) and Lil' O'Reilly (Spike Feresten's talk show) in best individual performance; The Onion News Network vies with Funny or Die's Prop 8 musical number for best writing; Awkward Rap (CollegeHumor), episode four of Childrens' Hospital, "New Portable Sewing Machine Lets Sweatshop Employees Work On The Go" (Onion News Network), Paris Hilton responding to John McCain, and Prop 8: The Musical are up for best individual episode; Childrens' Hospital goes up against NBC's The Office, Comedy Central's online The Weekly Evils, Today Now (Onion News Network) and You Suck At Photoshop (My Damn Channel) for best series; The Onion also magically got considered for the actual news category for its election coverage; the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon crew got a nod in the variety category; and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is up for the mashup category.
Congrats to all of the above. In addition, you can login to access a ballot to vote for "People's Choice" winners in five of the overall categories.
Congratulations go out today to these comedy-related online winners in the 2008 Webby Awards! Victors get the spoils June 8-10 in NYC, with a fest that includes guests such as Judah Friedlander and Seth Meyers and special honorees such as Stephen Colbert and Tim & Eric. Find out more here. Anyhow. Let's give props to these comedy Webby winners (The Onion folks cleaned up, pretty much)...
Celebrity/Fan: Best Week Ever (people's voice winner)
Podcasts: The Onion (people's voice)
Best writing: Onion News Network (Webby and people's voice)
Comedy, Individual Short or Episode: Onion News Network, "American Heroes" (Webby and people's voice)
Comedy, Long Form or Series: Wainy Days (Webby); You Suck at Photoshop (people's voice)
How-To and DIY: You Suck at Photoshop (Webby and people's voice)
News & Politics, Series: Onion News Network (people's voice)
Variety: Tom Green's House Tonight (Webby)
Speaking of comedy on Sunday mornings, what if I told you the serene CBS Sunday Morning turned out to be the best mainstream TV news source for profiling comedy these days? I know. And yet. Yesterday, the program did an in-depth feature on Rita Rudner. In March, a profile of The Onion. February saw a profile of director Jason Reitman and his father, Ivan. Steve Martin got a look-see in late November. There are regular dispatches from Mo Rocca and Ben Stein, plus CBS's own in-house guy Bill Geist. Here is the video from The Onion profile:
Example, please? This one's for you, Todd.
AVC: You consider anything fair game for comedy, but what wouldn't you put in your act?
TB: There are certain things that are probably too mean. I don't particularly like fat jokes. Those kind of bother me. But I guess what I was trying to say is, if I said I would never laugh at this, you could probably dig around and find a situation where I did laugh. I try not to be a hypocrite with that one. I find when there's a controversy about someone saying something offensive, I usually take the angle of, "Well, I don't know if that was offensive; it just wasn't funny." I generally don't gasp, "Oh my God!" I think people have been getting raked over the coals lately.
[An incredibly controversial answer. The kind of answer that will get picked up by various wire services and take both of us to the next level. LA-I.]
Valentine's Day is today, and in the grand tradition of parallel thinking in comedy, several videos are ready for your viewing pleasure to get through this "holiday," no matter your relationship status. Let's take a look.
The Onion News Network might be thought as callous for going after lonely women, but they always manage to turn a topic on its head. And quite professionally, too. It's almost like a real local TV news report. Which is the point of this parody production.
Funny or Die devotes the top half of its main page to Valentine's Day vids. Of course, this site's niche is the roster of celebrity cohorts, so they invariably go to that well again today.