A white Jewish boy accomplishing something in LA is nothing new. But I mention Hayden Black because he is the first person to move a show from the web to TV. His show, Goodnight Burbank, which he writes, produces, and stars in, just had a sneak-peak premier on HDNET (owned by another showbiz-type tribe member, Mark Cuban). The show follows the antics of an independent news station running their nightly program, Goodnight Burbank, out of the producer’s garage.
For you fan-people out there, the Goodnight Burbank features Lord of the Rings’s Dominic Monaghan, and Xena Warrior: Princess’s Adrienne Wilkinson. And for the rest of us, who love the quirky Jewy types, the show stars the delightful Laura Silverman as co-anchor Whitney Appleby, a Jesus freak with an impressive quotient of crazy. And not the cute hot mess kind, the clinical scary kind, which is probably cuter on Laura than the other kind anyway.
I sat down with both Hayden and Laura (okay, I can’t be sure they were sitting, it was all via technological means) to talk about the show, Nancy Grace, and Ginjews.
Let’s start serious. Business-like. Hayden. Goodnight Burbank – what’s it about?
Hayden: About 30 minutes?
Classic. So much for business-like.
H: It’s a comedy about the people who bring us the news. Who are these people we trust to tell us “the truth” and what to think? Goodnight Burbank takes place in real time during a newscast but one where we get to see what the anchors are like during their “off-mic” moments. So when they throw to their field reporters we hang back and see what they say.
And you’re pioneering this web stuff. What’s it like being a pioneer?
H: We’re the first half-hour comedy made for the web and so we’ve become the first ever half-hour to start on the web THEN go to TV. It’s one of, I think, 5 shows that began on the web that went to TV so I’m in this very small club. Surreal much?
Laura, how did you get involved in the show?
Laura: We were back stage of a show, and he asked me to read the script, and I said yes. I liked it, and so I agreed to do it. Later, I thought, “Oh no, what have I agreed to do?” Because you can never know how something is going to turn out, even if the script it great, there are so many variables. We were shooting at night in someone’s garage on the weekends. But everyone was nice, and it turned out to be a great time.
Did you use any actual anchors, hosts, or pundits as inspiration in shaping your characters?
H: As the writer, I used archetypes. I based Laura’s character on your typical vacuous blue-eyed blonde you see on Fox. Very self righteous, very angry people, who love to sit in judgment and talk about the baby Jesus. And I think Gordon, my character, was just a left-wing reaction to that, who’s just tired of it. But I wanted to give him some of his own edge. His sexual peccadilloes often get the better of him. But they’re not based on anyone specific. I did have Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge character in mind when putting Gordon’s ego together. Hence his rallying cry, “I am the news.” I don’t think he realizes what he’s saying.
L: No I didn’t because I was just too lazy to do research.
So Hayden is from England. Are British Jews more neurotic than American Jews?
H: Oh my God yes. Because British people are neurotic, Jews are neurotic, multiply that exponentially and you have me. And it’s not pleasant. I am so self aware to the point of being . . . ugh, it’s horrible.
L: I don’t know many British Jews, but Hayden is more neurotic.
If you could have one night with any network anchor, host, or pundit, who would it be?
H: (searches Google Images for the hottest lady-news-personality) I guess we’re gonna have to go with Brooke Baldwin.
L: Probably Keith Olbermann. I love him.
Have you seen Olbermann’s new show?
L: I don’t watch that stuff. My mom watches this stuff. Actually, when you called me, I was getting ready to get into the shower, so I’m in my mom’s bathroom in New Hampshire pacing naked, talking to you. I can hear my mother’s television in the room next door, she’s listening to the liberal stuff, probably on her computer, reading more. I can’t watch that stuff or I can’t get to sleep. I need something like Law & Order. There’s nothing like a good rape and murder story to help you get to sleep.
Nancy Grace Influencer, or crazy woman?
H:I think she influences other crazy women.
L: Crazy woman, but she’s very entertaining, and she cares a lot about the children.
Would you ever date a Ginjew?
H: I think Ginjews aren’t happy with one man. I think Ginjews are afraid of commitment. I think Ginjews know they’re such a rare breed of Jew that they can have whomever they want so they’re always sniffing around the next corner (with their big noses).
L: Sure. I don’t have a type, I mean, that’s not the type I look for, but if he was rich and going to die soon, sure.
Goodnight Burbank premiers on HDNet at 9pm EST on October 12th, and runs for six weeks.