March 1995 - May 1999
Dave Foley (Dave Nelson), Maura Tierney (Lisa Miller), Phil Hartman (Bill McNeal), Vicki Lewis (Beth), Joe Rogan
(Joe Garrelli), Andy Dick (Matthew Brock), Stephen Root (Jimmy James), Khandi Alexander (Catherine Duke), Jon Lovitz (Max Lewis)
Though it could easily be mistaken for just another "workplace" sitcom (not unlike The Mary Tyler Moore Show
or Just Shoot Me!
is actually a much better show than it got credit for. That may have to do with its impressive comedic pedigree: Dave Foley was a member of the sketch group The Kids in the Hall; Andy Dick had been a cast member on The Ben Stiller Show
; Phil Hartman was major player on Saturday Night Live
; Joe Rogan was a stand-up comic. It was a lot of comedy talent for one show, and it helped make NewsRadio
one of the best sitcoms of the 1990s.
NewsRadio was an NBC sitcom that ran for five seasons, centering on the fictional AM news station WNYX in New York. Though a number of employees were seen working at the station every week, the series focused only on a few: Dave Nelson, the dry-witted news director; Lisa Miller, the type-A reporter; flaky and accident-prone Matthew Brock; conspiracy theorist and electrician Joe Garrelli; egomaniacal anchor Bill McNeal; spacey secretary Beth; uptight anchor Catherine Duke and the super-eccentric station owner Jimmy James.
More Than Your Typical Sitcom:
Though the series began as a fairly traditional workplace sitcom, over time it evolved -- becoming more and more absurd and breaking typical sitcom rules. Story lines became bizarre and episodes relied on fantasy, such as shows set in space or on board the Titanic. It still incorporated sight gags and physical humor, usually from Andy Dick, and well-written, well-developed characters. Because of this, NewsRadio actually holds up better than most of the shows from the same era.
No More News:
Following the murder of cast member Phil Hartman in 1998, the series came back for one more season (its fifth). Hartman's character was written out of the series and replaced by Jon Lovitz, a friend of Hartman's from their time together on SNL. The loss of Hartman and slipping ratings -- not helped by the fact that NBC moved the show's time slot 11 times during its run -- led to its cancellation at the end of the fifth season.
Where to Find It:
NewsRadio ran for several years in syndication after its cancellation. All five seasons of the series are now available on DVD, with extra features that include gag reels and some very entertaining commentary tracks from the cast and crew.
Awards and Recognition:
- Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Phil Hartman (1998)
- Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Khandi Alexander (1998)
- Joe Rogan was cast in the role of the station's handyman after the first actor cast was fired. That actor was Ray Romano, who would go on to star on the hugely successful Everybody Loves Raymond.
- The show attracted a number of comedians as guest stars, including Dennis Miller, Jon Stewart, Janeane Garofalo, Norm MacDonald and Foley's former Kids in the Hall cast mate Kevin McDonald.
- Season Four's episode, "Chock," was something of a miniature Mr. Show reunion, featuring Bob Odenkirk, David Cross and Brian Posehn.