Newsreaders, the Childrens Hospital spin-off show, premiered its second season last night on Adult Swim with an all new anchor, Reagan Biscayne (played by Alan Tudyk), taking the lead for the “missing” Louis La Fonda. Nerdist visited the set of the show and spoke with producer Jim Margolis, formerly of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and 60 Minutes before that. Margolis explained the origins of Newsreaders, the evolution of his producing career and the fun parts of making silly comedy just for the heck of it.
Adult Swim has been paving the way for a lot of subversive live action comedy over the last few years. I asked Margolis where the idea for Newsreaders came from and it turns out it’s a rather complicated story. Ready? Here goes. According to Margolis, “The idea for this show came from in the David Wayne movie [The Ten] then he created this character, Louis La Fonda, who was a reporter and used that character to create a fake news magazine called ‘Newsreaders.’ In seasons two, three and four of Childrens Hospital there was a ‘Newsreaders’ episode and then they thought, ‘Oh, this is a great format, lets make this its own show.’ In the Childrens ‘Newsreaders’ episodes they were just reporting on the long running television drama Childrens Hospital with kind of entertainment behind the scenes, but then we had to create this whole new show and there was a lot of, particularly in the first season, just figuring out what it was and what it wasn’t and how we could make it distinct from other things that use comedy news shows.”
So how does Margolis and the writing team figure out what stories their news correspondents will tackle? Do they look to the news of the day or just make up scenarios on their own? Said Margolis, “It works both ways some of them come from a place of what would 60 Minutes, where I also used to work, what would they do what kinds of stories would they do and how can we take that to an absurd level. A lot of them are just they start with an absurd idea and we figure out how to make it live in that world. I think one of the things about the show is that it’s not satire, it’s just comedy and it’s obviously apolitical. We don’t really have a point of view, I think we have one episode — not even one episode, one story, in 27 in this season that actually makes a point and I’m sure there were others that make points but this one clearly does.
A huge fan of David Wain myself I had to ask if there will be an appearance by Jim Stansel this season. You know, Jim? He’s that guy… “No, no,” Margolis tells us. “David loves to recycle with his names – yeah, I forgot about Jim Stansel! I thought we had created that character.”
What can fans of Newsreaders look forward to in season two, aside from the addition of anchor Alan Tudyk? Margolis reveals, “Well, in this season there is more Childrens Hospital crossover. The next scenes we’re shooting are with Skip Reming who is one of the more popular characters on our show and Malin Akerman playing her fake actor character form the Childrens Hospital “Newsreaders” and Rob Riggle playing himself. It’s a segment called ‘Talking News’ which is our version of Talking Bad, Talking Dead. And then this thing that we shot this morning, Rob Huebel is in it playing his fake actor character.” Got all that? Allow Margolis to explain…
“They all have another persona that they play in those episodes when they’re being portrayed as the actor. Henry Winkler has this whole other character (Sy Mittleman), Rob Huebel plays Rob Hoyble and it just, it gets, there’s so many alternate universes that it gets hard to keep track of! So, there’s more of that this season and I’m trying to think if we have anyone – we tried to have some people come back as the same characters but I think it ended up not working out just because of scheduling so it’s we get great guest stars because the whole show is guest stars and we have our regular correspondents. So we’ve gotten amazing people. The first season we had them and we’ll have them again this season so its really fun you get to work with new people every day.”
Newsreaders premieres tonight on Adult Swim.