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Fox News Preps News Satire Show

Forbes | November 20, 2006
Michael Learmonth

Comedy Central has made a good living out of skewering the political right.

Now Fox News Channel, a primary source of material for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, is teaming with the exec producer of "24" to try its hand at a news satire show for conservatives to love.

Joel Surnow, co-creator of "24," is shooting two half-hour pilots of a skein he described as " 'The Daily Show' for conservatives," due to air in primetime on Saturdays in January.

If successful, the show could take its place on the regular schedule, adding satire to FNC's formula of news and opinion.

"The way I look at it, almost every comedy show or satire show I see uses the same talking points against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney," Surnow said. "The other side hasn't been skewered in a fair and balanced way."

The working title of the show has been "This Just In," but that will change because AOL just launched a broadband comedy channel by that name.

The pilot segs will be co-anchored by comedians Kurt Long and Susan Yeagley and feature a family of correspondents. "There will be some elements of 'The Daily Show' and some of 'Weekend Update,' " Surnow said.

Surnow originally pitched the show to Fox Entertainment prexy Peter Liguori, who is searching for latenight programming for the Fox network. Liguori passed but connected Surnow with Roger Ailes, who in addition to Fox News Channel also runs Twentieth Century Television and the Fox stations group.

Ailes, a big fan of "24," got to know Surnow during a visit to the set. As former producer of "The Mike Douglas Show," Ailes knows the variety show format.

"I want him to be as creatively involved as he wants to be," Surnow said. "He's the perfect blend of politics and entertainment."

Surnow said the show will feature man-on-the-street interviews and "respond to the news of the day." It will be scripted and may not have in-studio guests, a point of departure from Stewart and Colbert.

The pilots will be co-exec produced by Manny Coto, also of "24," and run by Ned Rice, an eight-year veteran of HBO's "Politically Incorrect."

Comedy Central's shows became hits during a time of Republican dominance of politics. But now the tide has shifted.

"Everybody who is in power should get shots equally," Surnow said. "By January, we will have a whole bunch of new people to do material about."

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