'The Onion' news show to make TV debut

The programme – 'more pretentious than CNN, more biased than Fox' – marks a major expansion for the satirical publication

Los Angeles

As slogans go, it's nothing if not ambitious. Launched into the most cut-throat market in American television, adverts for a new current affairs show promise: "The nation's No 1 source for breaking news, screaming political arguments and vital information on missing teenage Caucasian girls".

The programme is called Onion News Network. Its host is one Brooke Alvarez, a pneumatic blonde whose inside leg measurement is some way north of her IQ. Asked where it will sit on the political spectrum, its executive producer, Will Graham, said: "We're more self-important and pretentious than CNN, and more aggressive and biased than Fox."

With a bit of luck, they'll also be funny. The Onion News Network is the first television venture by the publishers of The Onion, the satirical newspaper that was first published in 1988 and became the Western media's most successful purveyor of knockabout comedy and spoof news articles since issue one of Viz rolled off the presses in the late 1970s.

The show makes its debut on the cable network IFC this month and marks the final stage of The Onion's transformation from underground free newspaper to multimedia empire. It is also the latest demonstration of the snowballing popularity of TV satire.

Jon Stewart, the left-leaning host of The Daily Show, is currently the most influential anchorman in the US when it comes to reaching the commercially crucial demographic of viewers aged 18-35. Like him, The Onion intends to use its airtime to lampoon the excesses of the cable news industry.

In the first edition, a daily "news without mercy" slot carries a report that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, has given in to pressure to suspend his nuclear programme. In return, he has demanded the lead role in the next Batman movie.

In Washington, "political analyst" Jason Copeland then presents the results of a fictitious poll in which 2,000 lifelong Democrats were asked the topical question: "What's the worst that could happen if Sarah Palin were elected president... Don't you kind of want to find out?" He reports that more than 80 per cent of them responded: "God, I'm so sorry, but yes."

Finally, in an effort to send up the non-stories that appear in the "and finally" sections, the Onion News Network carries a scoop from Illinois, where an apparently serviceable car tyre has been found "just sitting there... for at least a day".

Mr Graham says that the yardstick of the show's success will be how neatly it treads the line between life and art, particularly when poking fun at America's two agenda-driven news outlets, the left-wing MSNBC and Rupert Murdoch's conservative Fox.

"Fox News and MSNBC set a very high bar for their level of ridiculousness, and we're always thinking: 'We have to go just 10 percent higher than they are'," he told the Associated Press. "But there are times where we're kicking around an idea and then we'll be like, 'Wait, Fox News has already done that.' So we feel like we kind of got scooped."

That's not the only reason they might feel scooped. Spoof news programmes aren't exactly new. In Britain during the 1990s, Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci created The Day Today, which treads similar ground to the Onion News Network. The BBC show, itself an adaptation of Radio 4's On the Hour, helped to launch the careers of Patrick Marber and Steve Coogan.

The Onion is also launching a fake sports news programme on the cable station Comedy Central. The Onion SportsDome parodies ESPN, the sports network famed for its excessive graphics, noisy theme music and showboating anchormen.

Though most of the skits in its debut episode involve basketball, baseball and American football, at least one will strike a chord with UK viewers mystified by lowly status of "soccer" on the far side of the Pond. In it, the hosts say: "Catch up on everything that's happened [in football] since we last checked in... four years ago."

'The Onion' archives

God Answers Prayers of Paralyzed Little Boy – 'No,' Says God

Massive Flow of Bull**** Continues to Gush From BP Headquarters

Report: Global Warming Issue from 2 or 3 Years Ago May Still Be Problem

Obama Declares Victory, Sort Of, Depending On How You Look At It, In Iraq

Pope Vows to Get Church Paedophilia Down to Acceptable Levels

Cheney Vows to Attack US If Kerry Elected

Study: Dolphins Not So Intelligent On Land

Rich Guy Feeling Left Out of Recession

George W Bush Chuckles to Self Upon Thinking About How He Was President of the United States For Almost a Decade

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project