NewsRadio

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NewsRadio
NewsRadio.jpg
Intertitle
Also known asThe Station
FormatSitcom
Created byPaul Simms
StarringDave Foley
Stephen Root
Andy Dick
Joe Rogan
Maura Tierney
Vicki Lewis
Khandi Alexander
Phil Hartman
Jon Lovitz
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes97 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time22–24 minutes
Production company(s)343 Incorporated
Brillstein-Grey Entertainment
Columbia TriStar Television
DistributorSony Pictures Television
The Program Exchange
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runMarch 21, 1995 (1995-03-21) – May 4, 1999 (1999-05-04)
 
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NewsRadio
NewsRadio.jpg
Intertitle
Also known asThe Station
FormatSitcom
Created byPaul Simms
StarringDave Foley
Stephen Root
Andy Dick
Joe Rogan
Maura Tierney
Vicki Lewis
Khandi Alexander
Phil Hartman
Jon Lovitz
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes97 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time22–24 minutes
Production company(s)343 Incorporated
Brillstein-Grey Entertainment
Columbia TriStar Television
DistributorSony Pictures Television
The Program Exchange
Broadcast
Original channelNBC
Original runMarch 21, 1995 (1995-03-21) – May 4, 1999 (1999-05-04)

NewsRadio is an American television situation comedy that aired on NBC from 1995 to 1999. The series was created by executive producer Paul Simms, and was filmed in front of a studio audience at CBS Studio Center and Sunset Gower Studios. The show's theme tune was composed by Mike Post, who also scored the pilot (Ian Dye and Danny Lux did subsequent episodes).

The show placed #72 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list.[1]

Overview[edit]

The series is set at WNYX, a fictional AM news radio station in New York City, populated by an eccentric station owner and staff. The show begins with the arrival of a new news director, level-headed Dave Nelson (Dave Foley). While Dave turns out to be less naive than his youthful appearance suggests, he never fully gains control of his co-workers.

The fast-paced scripts and ensemble cast combined physical humor and sight gags with smart dialogue and absurd storylines. Plots often involved satirical takes on historical events, news stories and pop culture references. The third- and fourth-season finales took the absurdity to the extreme, setting the characters in outer space and aboard the Titanic.

There are a total of 97 episodes. Reruns continued in syndication for several years before disappearing in most markets, but the show has aired on A&E Network, Nick at Nite and TBS network in the United States, and TVtropolis and the Comedy Network in Canada. In the United States, the show occasionally airs as a filler on WGN America and runs regularly on Reelz Channel. The program became available in syndication to local stations again starting in July 2007 through The Program Exchange.[2]

Cast[edit]

Regular cast[edit]

The cast of NewsRadio, Seasons 1 to 4.

Recurring characters[edit]

The only recurring character to appear in more than one production season was Jimmy's lawyer, Roger, played initially by Norm Macdonald, and later by NewsRadio writer Drake Sather.

During the last season, Patrick Warburton had a recurring role as Johnny Johnson, Jimmy's nemesis and Lisa's love interest (and eventual husband).

Several other actors appeared in multiple seasons playing different characters, notably Lovitz, David Cross, Toby Huss, Brian Posehn, David Anthony Higgins, Dave "Gruber" Allen and Bob Odenkirk.

Tone Lōc and Toby Huss played security guards Lorenzo and Junior in two Season 2 episodes. The characters were based on the security guards at the studio where NewsRadio was shot.[6]

Lauren Graham had a four-episode run as Andrea, an efficiency expert who shakes up the office (firing Matthew, demoting Dave, and promoting Lisa to news director). She is sometimes referred to as "Planbee" after Matthew misunderstands her being Jimmy's "Plan B" for the office. She was intended as a possible replacement for the departing Alexander, but focus groups disliked the character. She's a needy woman in desperate need of a friend and so she tries to make one of Lisa—but Lisa and everyone else in the office wants nothing to do with her. In a season 4 episode commentary track, Tierney gives the hiring of Graham as a possible explanation for Alexander's departure, which contradicts the idea that Alexander intended to leave before Graham appeared on the show. (When Dave Foley appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast show, they talked about Alexander leaving because she was not given enough lines.) All of the changes introduced during Andrea's time on the show would be restored by midseason to the way things were before her arrival.

Brad Rowe had a four-episode run as Walt the intern, Jimmy's nephew who has a crush on Lisa, which causes more worry for Dave. He was originally intended as a regular for season five, but the character made no appearances after "Sinking Ship".

Steve Susskind had a recurring role as Milos the janitor, appearing in three episodes in the second season.

Guest appearances[edit]

When Alexander appeared as Catherine Duke in the fifth season opener (in which the McNeal character was killed off to coincide with Hartman's death), she was credited as a recurring character.

Kevin McDonald, Foley's castmate from The Kids in the Hall, made a guest appearance as the knife-wielding Throwdini in the episode "Stupid Holiday Charity Talent Show" during Season 4.

Other guest stars included John Ritter, Dennis Miller, Janeane Garofalo, Bebe Neuwirth, Lauren Graham, Ben Stiller, Chris Kattan, French Stewart, Dilbert creator Scott Adams, Jon Stewart, Bryan Callen, Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Patton Oswalt and, in a non-speaking cameo, Ron Jeremy. Celebrities appearing as themselves included Chuck D, Al Roker, Bob Costas, Jerry Seinfeld, James Caan, Adam West, George "Goober" Lindsey and heavy metal band Anthrax.

Guest stars Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Bob Odenkirk, John F. O'Donohue and David Cross all worked on The Ben Stiller Show with Andy Dick.

Guest stars in Season 4's "Chock" episode, David Cross, Bob Odenkirk and Brian Posehn all worked together on Mr. Show. Each of them appeared separately in earlier episodes of NewsRadio. Cross guest starred as Mr. James' weird nephew in Season 2's "Houses of the Holy", Odenkirk appeared as the doctor in "The Injury", and Posehn asked questions at Mr. James' book signing in Season 4's "Super Karate Monkey Death Car".

Nielsen ratings[edit]

Ratings for the show were inconsistent. The highest it ever reached in the ratings was 26th.

On its first two broadcasts the show received a 20 share, improving on its lead-in (Wings) by a percentage point, and beating its competitors (Under One Roof and Thunder Alley) in its share of the 18- to 49-year-old audience.[3]

Despite critical acclaim NBC changed the show's time slot 11 times.

Season ratings[edit]

SeasonTV SeasonRatings RankViewers
(in millions)
11994–1995#39[7]11.4[7]
21995–1996#39[8]10.6[8]
31996–1997#92[9]7.0[9]
41997–1998#62[10]8.0[10]
51998–1999#77[11]9.6[11]

Relationship with network[edit]

NBC had pushed for a "Sam and Diane"-type relationship between Dave and Lisa, but Paul Simms opted to have the characters sleep together in the second episode and have tension come from the aftermath. Later, NBC ordered a wedding to be incorporated into the show to boost ratings, and in response, the show "Our Fiftieth Episode" featured a B-story in which Jimmy tries to force Joe and Lisa into a fake on-air marriage, which Lisa outright refuses. The show's producers would later relent in its final season, and Lisa married Johnny Johnson in an episode that became NBC's "Spotlight of the Week". Another instance of network interference was an October 10, 1995 promotional gimmick NBC planned in order to capitalize on the success of the 1994 film Four Weddings and a Funeral. As a twist on the title of the film, NBC planned for three of its Tuesday night sitcoms to have funerals as the central plot and the fourth to feature a wedding; NewsRadio was given one of the funeral episodes (which were also given to Wings and Frasier, while The Pursuit of Happiness got the wedding episode). Rather than fulfilling NBC's directive in a straightforward manner, the writing staff wrote "Rat Funeral", an episode in which the WNYX staff befriend a rat, then mourn its death. The show also tweaked NBC later by having a previously unmentioned worker named Ted die offscreen, leaving Dave (who didn't know the guy but is wrongly assumed by everyone to have been his best friend) to handle the eulogy, only to learn that Ted was a veteran member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Another major point of contention between NBC and the show was NBC's insistence that the show include story arcs, while the producers strongly preferred shows that were self-contained. Story arcs often concluded hastily. One example is a late third season arc in which Lisa decides she wants to have a baby with Dave but doesn't want to get married; after being introduced, the idea was dropped in the episode "Mistake" with barely a mention. NBC would also on occasion display displeasure with the content of episodes. For instance, many episodes in the second season feature a comedic cold open ending with Matthew injuring himself or knocking something over before the title sequence. According to DVD commentary, NBC ordered a halt to this because they found it tiresome. One episode, "Injury", was produced early in the second season, but did not air until the summer following the third season, due to excessive use of the word "penis". The writers later admitted that they were trying to see how many times they could use the word on-air in response to NBC's relaxing of standards for other shows. The episode remained in the censorship offices for nearly two years, with the number of instances cut down in the footage by three. "Injury" appears on both the Season 2 and 3 DVD releases, but only in the later, edited down form. Paul Simms eventually went public with his frustration that NBC never gave his show a chance to run on Thursday nights, as they had with many other poorly-reviewed series that earned large ratings thanks to powerhouse lead-ins like Friends, Seinfeld and ER (TV series).

NBC briefly canceled NewsRadio in May 1998, after its fourth season, but the decision was reversed two weeks later, with an order of 22 episodes placed for a fifth season. Ten days after its renewal, Phil Hartman was killed by his wife, and his absence cast a pall over the fifth season. NBC left the series "on the bubble" until the day the final episode of the fifth season aired, months after production had wrapped. The fifth season ending storyline where Jimmy James buys a radio station in a small New Hampshire town was intended to provide a new setting for a potential sixth season, if NBC officially did not cancel the series.[citation needed]

Episodes[edit]

The "Balloon" episode in season 4 was given a PRISM Commendation in 1999 in the Television Comedy Series Episode category for the accurate portrayal of tobacco use.[12]

DVD releases[edit]

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released all 5 seasons of NewsRadio on DVD in Region 1 between 2005–2007. Each set includes multiple audio commentaries with creator Paul Simms, the writers and actors. The DVD sets also include "special features" such as "gag reels" and other featurettes. As of 2014, these releases have been discontinued and are out of print.

On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Newsradio.[13] On February 20, 2014, it was announced that they will be re-releasing the first two seasons on DVD on April 1, 2014.[14]

DVD NameEp#Release Date
The Complete First and Second Seasons28May 24, 2005
April 1, 2014 (re-release)
The Complete Third Season25February 28, 2006
The Complete Fourth Season22June 20, 2006
The Complete Fifth Season22March 20, 2007
The Complete Series97October 28, 2008

Syndication[edit]

The show entered off-network syndication three months after the 4th season finale. In October, 2000, A&E picked up the rights to the show and eventually moved to The Biography Channel in 2003. In 2006, the show began airing on Nick at Nite and TBS for a short period of time. In July 2010, the show began airing on the ReelzChannel cable network. In July 2011, Antenna TV picked up the rights to the show to begin airing in October 2011.[15] The majority of NewsRadio episodes were available to users in the United States via the video on demand site Hulu but as of March 2012 they are no longer available. A number of episodes from the first three seasons are currently available on the free video on demand site Crackle.

In Canada, the show aired on The Comedy Network from 2011 to 2013. In October 2013, the show began airing on the Canadian TV channel M3. In the UK, the show aired on Paramount Comedy in the late 1990s, and has aired on Sony TV since April 2011.

In Australia, Newsradio was aired on the Network Ten since 1997 and Then on 7Mate in 2011.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The New Classics: TV". Entertainment Weekly. June 18, 2007. Retrieved February 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ NewsRadio from The Program Exchange
  3. ^ a b A Precocious Sitcom Freshman, an April 9, 1995 article from The New York Times
  4. ^ a b NewsRadio (an Episode Guide)
  5. ^ "It's official: Jon Lovitz to join 'NewsRadio' cast". CNN. July 6, 1998. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  6. ^ Commentary track for episode "Friends"
  7. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1994-1995". Fbibler.chez.com. July 26, 2002. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 
  8. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1995-1996". Fbibler.chez.com. July 26, 2002. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 
  9. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1996-1997". Fbibler.chez.com. July 26, 2002. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 
  10. ^ a b "Final Ratings for '97-'98 TV Season". The San Francisco Chronicle. May 25, 1998. 
  11. ^ a b "Final ratings for the 1998-1999 TV season". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 
  12. ^ http://eiconline.org/resources/publications/z_profile/profile3_1.pdf
  13. ^ Mill Creek Entertainment Signs Deals With Sony Pictures Home Entertainment To Expand Their Distribution Partnership
  14. ^ 'Seasons 1 & 2' DVD Re-Release is Scheduled by Mill Creek
  15. ^ Posted by Pavan -- SitcomsOnline.com (July 25, 2011). "Antenna TV Fall 2011 Schedule; OWN and TLC Acquires Undercover Boss Repeats for Fall 2012 - SitcomsOnline.com News Blog". Blog.sitcomsonline.com. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 

External links[edit]