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Jeffrey Tambor, The Onion, And The Grilling Cable News Deserves

By Alyssa Rosenberg on February 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm

"Jeffrey Tambor, The Onion, And The Grilling Cable News Deserves"

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I wrote about this a bit yesterday in my review of House of Cards, but, while I respect the work of folks at MSNBC, I kind of think that the best way to take on cable news is not to go high-minded and triumphal a la The Newsroom, but savage and ridiculous. Fortunately, it sounds like Amazon, as part of their plans to expand into original programming* is planning to oblige me:

Amazon Studios has landed another big-name actor for one of its first six comedy pilots. I’ve learned that Jeffrey Tambor is set to star in The Onion Presents: The News. The project, from The Onion’s Will Graham & Dan Mirk (The Onion News Network, The Onion Sportsdome), is described as a fast-paced scripted comedy set behind the scenes of The Onion News Network that shows just how far journalists will go to stay at the top of their game. Tambor will play David Everett, ONN’s oldest and most respected news anchor. He is intellectual, highly ambitious, cutthroat and insecure as he believes his job is being threatened by the younger Cameron, whom David detests.

Tambor was actually quite good in Next Caller, a show NBC put into production about the employees of a satellite radio station that starred Dane Cook. The pilot itself was a little bit heavy on the wacky, and Cook’s appeal will always be limited to me. But Tambor, as the head of the station, embraced the ludicrousness of his position, which required him to program to niche audiences that ranged from the bros who tuned in to Cook’s show to people who really just wanted to listen to saucy Catholic nuns. And while it’s not as if the projects come from the same creators, or if Tambor is acting out his own ideas about media, his strong suit as an actor has always been characters who maintain a level of wounded dignity entirely inappropriate to their circumstances. That’s a nice set of skills to take to cable news as a subject, and goodness knows The Onion has a genius for finding examples of gaps and disjuncts between the reality of scenarios and the ways people comport themselves during them.

*Which includes an original series by Garry Trudeau about Congressmen sharing a rowhouse in Washington, for which I cannot wait.

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