"No Clothes" brings together comics, politicos

Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:20am EDT
 
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By Georg Szalai

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - "The News Has No Clothes," a stage show mixing politics and comedy and featuring comedian Lewis Black and former White House press secretary Dana Perino, might be the next late-night television format.

Veteran comedy producers and masterminds of the defunct U.S. Comedy Arts Festival (USCAF) in Aspen, Colorado, are returning to the mountain resort as part of this week's Aspen Ideas Festival to try out their idea. If the stage show works, its producers hope to pitch the concept -- described as "The View" and "Politically Incorrect" meet the vintage BBC show "That Was the Week That Was" -- to TV networks for a possible late-night slot.

The first trial Thursday will feature co-hosts Perino (press secretary for President George W. Bush), Black, comedian D.L. Hughley, public radio host Kurt Andersen and "Daily Show" correspondent Larry Wilmore. It will include video packages by the Onion. Among the issues to be debated are the role of the news media, the economy, President Obama's performance and the culture wars. Guests for specific topics will include former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. The show also will feature stand-up performances.

The team behind the idea includes Joe Lang, director of festival producer Jazz Aspen Snowmass and former local producer for USCAF; Craig Minassian, assistant press secretary and director of TV news in the Clinton White House and USCAF director; Robert Morton, former executive producer of "Late Show With David Letterman" and Comedy Central's "Chocolate News"; and Stu Smiley, executive producer of "Flight of the Conchords" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" and a USCAF founder.

"So many late-night shows are single-person and host-driven," Morton said. "But you can plug various talent into this format."

The Aspen experiment also is a sign of the times. Facing cutbacks in the television development and pilot process, the producers decided to take matters into their own hands by taping the show, with the goal of showing it to networks themselves.

(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)

 
<p>Grammy Award-winning comedian Lewis Black performs for troops and their family members as part of a USO entertainment tour at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar's Bob Hope Theater in San Diego, California August 15, 2007. REUTERS/Dave Gatley</p>